Wales

Coronavirus: Prince Charles opens stadium field hospital

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Media captionCameras got a first look inside the field hospital at the Principality Stadium on 14 April

Wales' biggest hospital has been opened by Prince Charles to ease the pressure on the NHS from coronavirus.

Cardiff's Principality Stadium has been turned into a 2,000-bed field hospital and is the second biggest in the UK behind Nightingale Hospital, London.

The Cardiff site - called Dragon's Heart Hospital - will have a mobile x-ray and CT scanners.

It will care for people recovering from coronavirus, and for others facing the last weeks or days of their life.

Speaking in a pre-recorded video message on the stadium's big screens, the Prince of Wales said the transformation of the stadium was part of the "immense effort to combat the dreadful threat that we face".

He praised the way the community had come together and frontline workers who have put themselves first during the pandemic "without sorts of reward and without regard for self".

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Image caption A pre-recorded message from Prince Charles was played on a big screen during the opening ceremony

"Words simply cannot express the gratitude and humility that such compassion and courage inspires in us all," he added in the video recorded at his Birkhall home in Scotland.

"Our hearts go out to all those who have lost their loved ones in such a terribly tragic way. Today we honour their memory, and can resolve in words long used to commemorate those who fell in other countries.

"Their sacrifice shall not be forgotten. We could honour them too by doing all we can to aid those are on the frontline of the struggle.

"Time and again in these last days and weeks we have heard the most inspiring stories of people from every possible background."

Image copyright CVUHB
Image caption About 750 beds are on the pitch with 250 on platforms around it

He also said: "We hope and trust that the measures which have been taken and the hardship that so many are enduring will help hasten the day when the shadow of this disease will finally be lifted."

The site was planned in one week and erected over two weeks with 600 people involved.

It is ready to accept its first 300 patients and is expected to be fully functional within a further 14 days, with up to 2,000 staff working there, and will double the size of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's (CVUHB) system.

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Image caption Liquid oxygen tanks have been installed outside the stadium

The hospital will care for patients who are coming to the end of their treatment for Covid-19 and require rehabilitation and support, or end-of-life 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.

Image copyright CVUHB
Image caption The hospital covers the whole Principality Stadium pitch and there is an on-site radiography unit, laboratories and a pharmacy

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the "spirit that has helped us to get through the coronavirus crisis can be seen here in Cardiff today - the remarkable Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig (Dragon's Heart Hospital)".

Health Minister Vaughan Gething added: "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."

Professor Charles Janczewski, chairman of CVUHB, said: "It is not until you see the scale of the work and the turnaround of this stadium... that the impact of this virus has had on us all really hits home.

"Sadly like many other NHS organisations we have suffered losses, and I would like to pay tribute to those colleagues and healthcare workers at Cardiff and Vale and indeed across Wales and the world."

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