Work has begun to build two new operating theatres at Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli in a bid to tackle surgical waiting lists and ease pressures across the region.
The new operating theatres, which will be built thanks to nearly £20m of Welsh Government funding, will include preparation rooms, anaesthetic rooms, changing facilities and a recovery area.
The theatres will have capacity to run 24 sessions a week, covering procedures including orthopaedics, general surgery, urology, vascular and laser therapy for varicose veins.
The new facilities are expected to deliver approximately 4,600 additional day cases per year.
It is hoped this will help efforts to tackle the backlog of people waiting for treatment in the area after delays caused by the impact of the pandemic to planned care.
As well as benefitting patients in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire waiting for treatment, it is also anticipated that patients across the wider south west Wales region will benefit from the additional capacity this development will enable.
As part of the planning for the new unit, Hywel Dda University Health Board is running a targeted campaign to recruit additional clinical, theatre and support staff First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
This funding will benefit people who have been waiting for surgical treatment in the Hywel Dda health board area by increasing the number of day case procedures by more than 4,600 a year.
This shows our commitment to investing in infrastructure in NHS Wales, to ensure it has sufficient resilience and capacity to care for people when they need it.
We recently announced an investment of more than £170m in planned care and challenged health boards to develop plans about how they can transform how their services are delivered and make best use of the funding available.
It is through investing in services and transforming how we deliver planned care that we can tackle the impacts of the pandemic on the NHS in Wales.
Hywel Dda University Health Board Executive Director of Strategic Development and Operational Planning, Lee Davies, said:
The development of additional theatre capacity is a significant milestone in our COVID-19 recovery planning, and we are delighted to receive this funding from the Welsh Government to deliver the project.
In addition to the extra day case procedures we anticipate to operate, the modular build will help maintain our planned care 'green' pathways in light of the wider challenges to the unscheduled care system.
We look forward to working alongside our project partners to progress the scheme over the coming weeks and months.