Local health bosses have recommended that a full-time A&E department should be kept at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, BBC Wales has been told.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board had been working on plans to either close the department completely and replace it with a minor injuries unit, or only open A&E during the day.
Bosses say they have recruited enough staff now to keep the department open.
The full health board will discuss a paper outlining the plan next Monday.
Campaigners and local politicians have welcomed the recommendation.
Pontypridd MP Alex Davies-Jones and Senedd counterpart Mick Antoniw MS both expressed satisfaction at the news.
Praising people who had campaigned to retain the full service, Mr Antoniw said: "So often the NHS has been there for us. Today, we can all say that we were all there for our NHS."
Ms Davies-Jones added: "This is the result that everyone wanted to see and have worked so hard for."
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of RCT Council, provides an update on today's news that 24 hour A&E services are recommended to be retained at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, along with a review into enhanced local health services at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda. pic.twitter.com/YSldiWgqKy— RCT Council (@RCTCouncil) June 22, 2020
What was the issue?
Earlier this year bosses warned patient safety was being put at risk due to severe staff shortages at A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital near Llantrisant.
The unit was heavily reliant on locum doctors and had been forced to close twice over the Christmas period due to a lack of cover.
It meant ambulances had to be re-directed to the Prince Charles Hospital In Merthyr Tydfil or the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.
The department's only full-time consultant had announced he was leaving in April, and it was understood only 12% of middle-grade shifts were covered by full-time doctors.
One patient had already died because of an overdependence on agency or locum staff, and the health board was aware of other cases when patients were put in danger.
The NHS faces a nationwide shortage of A&E consultants, with the bigger trauma centres finding it easier to attract staff.
NEWYDDION DA / GOOD NEWS— Leanne Wood 🏴 (@LeanneWood) June 22, 2020
Well done to everyone who campaigned against the Labour Welsh government & their health board’s plans to remove our A&E at the Royal Glamorgan. Not all problems are resolved so it makes sense for the campaigners to keep in touch. pic.twitter.com/HHfoBbu2NA
Big credit to local campaigners who put forward their case so strongly & made the health board & Welsh Government sit up and listen. Pleased common sense has prevailed & we now need to see a strong long-term plan from health bosses to ensure we're never in this situation again.— Andrew RT Davies (@AndrewRTDavies) June 22, 2020
What have campaigners been worried about?
Earlier this year, several protests were held outside the Senedd and health board meetings opposing any changes to the hospital's A&E.
Campaigners argued that lives would be put at risk if the department was downgraded.
They have been worried about poor transport links between some valleys communities, and that other hospitals had been prioritised for investment instead of the Royal Glamorgan.
They were angered when the health board's medical director told a Senedd committee it "may well be true" that no "substantive effort" was made to recruit A&E consultants at the hospital for five years.
Was the plan to downgrade A&E at the Royal Glamorgan new?
I’m hearing we’ve won the battle over the A and E at the Royal Glamorgan. Thank you everyone who fought for this!! pic.twitter.com/xt0Mvr7XcX— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) June 22, 2020
In 2014, five south Wales health boards devised a plan to address concerns that maternity care, baby care, children's hospital care and emergency medicine were spread too thinly across too many hospitals.
After a public consultation, health boards and community health councils finally agreed on a series of recommendations.
These included closing A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, but in the intervening period there was little change.
In the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area, consultant-led maternity care has been centralised at Prince Charles Hospital.
Changes to children's hospital care have been repeatedly postponed.
Rhondda MS Leanne Wood said people would be "overjoyed and relieved" at the decision, adding: "It was clear that the campaign to retain 24 hour services had logic, reason and safety on its side.
"Our argument to retain and boost staffing levels with a clear and energetic recruitment drive was strong enough but when the coronavirus pandemic occurred, the importance of hospital capacity and local services was reinforced significantly."
Conservative MS for South Wales Central Andrew RT Davies said: "I'm pleased common sense has finally prevailed but we now need to see a strong long-term plan from health bosses to ensure residents and communities in the region are never put in this situation again with any further threats to A&E provision at Royal Glamorgan."