Health bosses in west Wales have made another appeal for people to avoid A&E departments due to “significant pressure” being placed on staff. Hywel Dda University Health board has asked people to only attend emergency departments across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion if they have “a life-threatening illness or serious injury”.

The appeal was made over the Easter period, with patients complaining of a number of ambulances being lined up outside Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen over the bank holiday weekend. The health board said that all of its emergency departments - at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest and at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth, as well as at Glangwili - were under strain. To get the latest Carmarthenshire stories sent directly to you for free, click here.

In a statement issued on Easter Sunday, the health board said: “All our emergency departments are under significant pressure. If you are unwell and unsure what to do, you can visit the online symptom checker or call NHS 111 if you are unsure what help you need. For urgent mental health support please call 111 and select option 2. For advice and support from a mental health professional 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Only attend an Emergency Department if you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury such as severe breathing difficulties, severe pain or bleeding, chest pain or a suspected stroke, or serious trauma injuries."

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Reacting to the news on social media, one person labelled the current situation an “absolute mess”, and it’s not the first time in recent months that people have been asked to stay away from hospitals unless it’s absolutely necessary that they attend. A similar request was made in January, and later that month it was revealed by the Welsh Ambulance Service that crews spent a total of 364 hours waiting to actually take patients into Glangwili Hospital - a situation it described as “untenable for patients and for staff”.

Meanwhile, back in August last year the health board admitted that Glangwili and Bronglais hospitals were under “extreme” pressure, while the A&E department at Withybush Hospital was in a “critical” state, with an unannounced inspection at the Haverfordwest site finding that “immediate improvements” were needed. Want less ads? Download WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android.

The future of A&E departments in west Wales and healthcare in general across the region is set to be transformed in the coming years as Hywel Dda continues to press ahead with plans to build a new urgent and planned care hospital. Despite fears that either or both Glangwili and Withybush could close as part of the shake-up, health bosses have always stressed that this would not be the case. However, under the plans, both sites would be repurposed and become community hospitals. The setting for the new hospital has been whittled down to one of two sites, both located in the Whitland and St Clears area of Carmarthenshire, around 10 miles west of Carmarthen. The next step in the construction of the new hospital is a presentation of a ‘strategic outline case’ at some point later this year, although a potential date of competition and opening of the new site has not been confirmed.

Hywel Dda has said that, despite the Easter period coming to an end on Monday, the situation being faced by its hospitals is not likely to improve in the coming days. The health board's director of secondary care, Keith Jones, said: "Our Emergency Departments are still operating under significant pressure as a consequence of high levels of patient demand over the Bank Holiday weekend and we expect this situation to continue over the coming days. We have applied our escalation policies and supporting actions across our hospital sites to maximise our available capacity and the two remaining wards which have been closed at Withybush Hospital as a result of the priority RAAC repair project have reopened from today. We would like to thank our staff for their hard work in challenging circumstances and also to our patients and the public for their patience and understanding.”

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