Number of black alerts “relentless” at Swansea hospital, reveals Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru exclusively reveals that Morriston Hospital has declared the highest level of alert nine times in last year

A photograph of patients in a hospital waiting room.

In information seen by Plaid Cymru, it’s been revealed that Morriston Hospital has declared nine Business Continuity Incidents – so called ‘black alerts’ – in the last 12 months.

Five of these have occurred in the last five months, and in April alone, for five days, Swansea Bay University Board (SBUHB) advised people to avoid coming to the hospital's Emergency Department unless they were seriously ill or badly injured.

A black alert is triggered only under exceptional circumstances and is the highest alert level a health board can declare.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, who raised this with the First Minister today (Tuesday 16 April) said “you would expect therefore that this was a very rare occurrence.

However, in information shared with Plaid Cymru, staff within the Hospital Operations and Emergency Department Team at Morriston Hospital confirmed that the hospital has declared nine separate external business continuity incidents since April 2023.

Addressing the First Minister directly, Ms Williams shared testimonies from three constituents, one of whom was a seventy-seven year old from Neath, who it was later found had broken his neck, and who had to wait almost twenty hours for an ambulance and a further five hours to be seen by a doctor at Morriston Hospital.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:

“It’s simply unacceptable in terms of both the frequency of this highest state of alert, and the severity of this pressure that our health board is experiencing. This pressure and frequency of incidents must be addressed, so that people who live in the Swansea Bay Health Board area can be reassured that their largest emergency department is able to meet their needs, when they are most in need.

“The health board has shown remarkable resilience in the face of this relentless pressure, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to the staff who have had to work hard to bring the service back from the brink each time. But the fact remains that they should not be put in this situation.

“The First Minister says that addressing health service pressures is a primary focus, but all the while recruitment and retention remains a huge issue within the NHS, and most of our health boards remain in some form of government monitoring, there is pressure on staff even outside of the black alert periods.

“Plaid Cymru knows that the NHS is nothing without its workforce, and while we know that money is tight, it’s their wellbeing and that of their patients which is ultimately paying the price for the Labour Welsh Government’s failure to get to grips with the crisis facing Welsh health boards.”

This starts with you

We can make Wales a safer, better place to live. Sign up today and show your support.