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Prince of Wales to open temporary hospital in the Principality Stadium

The stadium is the home of Welsh rugby and has previously seen performances by bands from Coldplay to the Rolling Stones.

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The President’s Lounge has been transformed from a lounge bar to hospital bays (Cardiff and Vale University Health Board/PA)

The President’s Lounge has been transformed from a lounge bar to hospital bays (Cardiff and Vale University Health Board/PA)

The President’s Lounge has been transformed from a lounge bar to hospital bays (Cardiff and Vale University Health Board/PA)

The Prince of Wales will mark the official opening of the temporary hospital based at the Principality Stadium on Monday.

Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig, the Dragon’s Heart Hospital, is the largest temporary hospital in Wales and the second largest in the UK, providing up to 2,000 additional beds for Covid-19 patients.

It will double the size of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s system, with patients being treated in large tent-like structures and the hospitality boxes.

Around 750 beds are on the pitch, with 250 on platforms around it, and there is on-site radiography, laboratories and a pharmacy.

Len Richards, chief executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said the stadium “embodies the heart and soul of the nation”.

“We are planning on the basis of what we think we might need to ensure we are as ready as we can be,” he said.

“I sincerely hope we don’t need to use all of the capacity but it is far better to have developed plans based upon the scientific evidence and modelling of the experts.

“This facility will allow us to free up capacity at our other hospital sites so that we can continue to provide services to patients with other health conditions.”

Mr Richards paid tribute to the “commitment and dedication” shown by everyone involved in the project, which has been funded by the Welsh Government.

On Monday afternoon, the official opening will be hosted by Welsh rugby star Dr Jamie Roberts, who has been temporarily working in the NHS as a clinical innovation fellow.

Key speakers include Professor Charles Janczewski, chair of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and Dr Jonathon Gray, director of Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig.

Vaughan Gething, minister for health and social services, will also be speaking and there will be a video address from First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The event will close with a video recorded by Charles at his Birkhall home in Scotland.

Ruth Walker, executive director of nursing at the health board and Victoria Le Grys, programme director for Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, will unveil a plaque.

Musical accompaniment will be provided by Alis Huws, official harpist to Prince Charles.

“The sheer scale of effort that has gone into creating this incredible field hospital here in the heart of our capital city is nothing short of astonishing,” Mr Gething said.

“This effort is being replicated across Wales, with capacity increasing from 10,000 beds to 17,000 in a matter of weeks.

“By ramping up the number of beds available in settings such as this, we can make sure there is capacity in our hospitals to care for those most in need during these extraordinary times.”

The temporary hospital has already opened its first 330 beds but has not yet welcomed its first patient.

It will care for patients who are coming to the end of their treatment for Covid-19 and require rehabilitation and support, or end-of-live palliative care.

Facilities include mobile x-ray, CT scanners and care for people in the last weeks or days of their lives.

The adjacent Cardiff Blues stadium will offer a rest area for staff and a reception area for relatives.

Mark Williams, manager of the Principality Stadium, said: “To witness the transformation of the stadium into a field hospital in just a matter of weeks is staggering.

“It reaffirms what is possible when people come together.

“I’m immensely proud of my team for taking on this unprecedented challenge with such professionalism.

“We frequently transform the stadium from sports arena to music venue and back again and have seen some of the world’s biggest bands perform here, from the likes of Coldplay to the Rolling Stones, but nothing has ever been done on this scale and at this speed.”

Over the past few weeks, more than 650 people have been employed to either work at Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig or backfill posts at the University Hospital of Wales.

PA