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Coronavirus latest: Principality Stadium to become NHS Wales field hospital

Coronavirus latest: Principality Stadium to become NHS Wales field hospital
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Around 2,000 additional beds will be housed in the Cardiff facility.

Wales' Principality Stadium is to be converted into a temporary hospital providing around 2,000 additional beds to support the NHS.

The Welsh Rugby Union, which owns and operates the venue, has been working with the Cardiff and Vale government officials and the University Health Board as part of contingency planning for the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The facility is now being assessed by specialists and contractors to complete the transformation, mirroring efforts elsewhere in the United Kingdom, including the three announced 'Nightingale Hospitals' in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

"We have made the entire Principality Stadium available to be used based on NHS requirements, including hospitality areas and a variety of further rooms and facilities," said the WRU's chief executive, Martyn Phillips.

"It is a privilege to be able to offer our services, facilities and a significant number of operational staff, at their individual choice, to help at this time of national emergency. We have made advanced plans to transform relevant spaces into fully functional hospital environments, working closely with Levy UK, who are responsible for overseeing similar transitions elsewhere."

Len Richards, chief executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, welcomed the move which could help ease the pressure on a healthcare system that is anticipated to be put under considerable pressure in the coming weeks.

Richards said: "It is difficult looking at the numbers to appreciate the size and the scale of the task ahead of us in the NHS. However we have been using the past few weeks wisely in order to put structures and processes in place across our main hospital sites, University Hospital Wales and University Hospital Llandough.

"In addition to this we have secured the Principality Stadium, Cardiff as a temporary field hospital with the capacity to hold up to an additional 2,000 beds. The 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.

"I understand the concern that this will cause, not only in the community but among my staff too. However we are planning on the basis of what we think we might need to ensure we are as ready as we can be. 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."

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