Patients who face longer ambulance journeys to the newly-opened Grange University Hospital have been assured it will not affect their care.
Senior medical staff told Monmouth MP David Davies that extra travel time from north Monmouthshire to Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, will be “offset” in several ways.
They said the handover time from ambulances into the triage area will be much faster.
Once inside, patients will be seen more quickly and have immediate access to what is being described as a “centre of excellence” in specialist and critical care.
There is also a dedicated 24-hour helipad for the Wales Air Ambulance.
The purpose-built £350m hospital is set to revolutionise care for people living across Gwent and south Powys, with the first patients transferred over the weekend.
It officially opened its doors on Tuesday (17 November) four months ahead of schedule to help Aneurin Bevan University Health Board respond to winter pressures and the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Davies visited the 560-bed facility on Friday to view the region’s new home of accident and emergency and intensive care.
He was joined by Penny Jones, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Safeguarding and Health, who was a nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the 1970s.
“Walking into the hospital, we were really struck by the space and light. The design is very high-tech,” said Mr Davies.
“The Grange features all of the modern design elements and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure it is fit for the 21st century.
From this week, the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny will be turned into 24-hour minor injuries units.
Anyone who has suffered a heart attack, a stroke, a major accident or requires major surgery will be treated at The Grange instead where 600-700 staff are based.
“The big concern that has been raised with Penny and myself is that patients in the Abergavenny and Raglan area will have to travel further in an ambulance,” said Mr Davies.
“However, senior medical staff were keen to assure me that the extra travel time will be offset in several ways. Ultimately, the plan is to ensure teams of specialists who are needed for dealing with serious injuries and illnesses are all available in one place.
“Everything certainly looks very good and, overall, the whole process will be far more efficient. But of course, local councillors and I will be closely monitoring the situation to make sure extra journey times do not cause any issues for people.”
Further information on the changes to healthcare in Gwent can be found on the health board’s website here.