Patient's anger over Llandough Hospital cable theft

A patient whose operation was cancelled after metal thieves targeted a hospital has spoken of her anger at the crime.

Llandough Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan was forced to postpone more than 80 operations on Wednesday after a generator was targeted.

Rebecca Lee, 19, a student at Swansea University due to undergo knee surgery, said the theft was "awful" because cancer patients had also been affected.

Surgery at the hospital has now resumed.

There were calls in the House of Lords for the UK government to take action to prevent similar incidents happening again.

Hospital managers said Tuesday's theft of 100m of cabling was "dangerous and irresponsible" after having to cancel a full day's list of routine surgery.

Replacing the cables could cost up to £20,000 although their scrap value is thought to be far less.

A new back-up generator was installed and tested before routine surgery could be resumed.

Ms Lee, who is from Cardiff, was due to go into hospital on Wednesday but was then told on Tuesday evening her operation had been cancelled.

"I was just really angry and disappointed at first. They couldn't tell me what had happened exactly so I thought it was something to do with the hospital.

"Then I saw it on the news.

"I think it's awful. With me, it's not too bad, the worst that can happen is my knee can be damaged, but people have had cancer operations cancelled."

National taskforce

Ms Lee has ligament damage and has been told an operation is necessary before permanent damage is caused.

Her operation has now been moved to Monday.

Hospital managers said operations were being rescheduled based on clinical need, with priority given to the cancer patients.

On Thursday, the UK government was urged to take action to help prevent metal thefts from hospitals.

Baroness Howarth said in the House of Lords at question time: "The stakes have been significantly raised in this issue now that it is not only a question of very significant funds but that human lives are being put at risk in hospitals when hospitals have to close and operations be postponed because metal has been stolen by thieves."

Home Office minister Lord Henley said the UK government was "taking urgent steps" to address the problem of metal theft and £5m had been committed to establish a national taskforce "to significantly increase enforcement activity" on dealers and thieves.

Metal thieves had also targeted BBC Wales in Cardiff using a vehicle parked off site to carry away a 280m copper cable used on a back up generator.

It was estimated the cable had been worth "a few hundred pounds" in scrap but would cost £30,000 to replace not including the repair and re-installation costs.

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