ONLINE reports that two west Wales hospitals are turning ambulances away caused concern last night but have been “strongly refuted” by health board officials.

The Save Withybush Action Team (SWAT) published a statement on September 12 allegedly from a “source close to the ambulance service” stating that both Withybush and Glangwili Hospitals are not taking patients via ambulance.

It added that this has been happening for the last two days, with patients being taken to Prince Philip in Llanelli.

The statement read: “Very worrying indeed… it is September and we haven’t yet been plunged into the traditional ‘winter pressures’.

“But, Withybush has been closed to ambulances for the past two days, it is full to capacity and cannot take ambulance patients as there is nowhere for them to go.

“Glangwili cannot take our Pembrokeshire ambulance patients because they are in the same boat and full with nowhere for people to go.

“All Pembrokeshire ambulance patients have had to go to Prince Philip hospital in Llanelli which is now struggling to cope with the extra pressures and does not have the facilities to deal with all cases as its A&E is limited.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board responded to the claims saying they were “strongly refuted” but admitted there had been a small number of patients diverted away from Withybush.

Joe Teape, director of operations and deputy chief executive at Hywel Dda, said: “The health board strongly refutes the claims made on social media and we would like to take the opportunity to set the record straight.

“Over the past few days the vast majority of our patients in Pembrokeshire have been seen and treated by our extremely hard-working and dedicated clinical workforce at Withybush General Hospital, a number of whom have been caused significant distress as a result of what they have read on social media.

“As is commonplace at this time of the year we are experiencing pressures at some of our acute hospital sites, and in line with our usual escalation procedures a small number of appropriate patients have been diverted to Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals to ensure that we can accommodate our patients safely.

“The same protocol is followed when patients need to be diverted to Withybush from other hospitals.

“The health board has a responsibility to ensure that we deliver services which are clinically safe and put patients at the heart of everything that we do. Through joint working with internal and external partners, including our colleagues at WAST, the position has now improved and no diverts are currently in place. We would like to thank all of our staff and external colleagues for their support and hard work over this busy period.”

SWAT’s post added: “Staff are running around trying to cope the best they can but it’s not fair to them and certainly not fair to unwell patients who are having to be taken miles away and don’t even know if there’s space to take them in.

“It also means their family are often unable to travel such distances to be with them in their time of need. This situation is appalling.”