Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr wardless hospital hailed as future on official opening
A 269-bed hospital where patients stay in ensuite rooms is an example of innovative changes needed "to protect the NHS", the health minister has said.
Lesley Griffiths was officially opening Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly county borough.
The Welsh government, which spent £172m on the hospital, said it would mean people can be treated closer to home.
Some of the services on offer were previously only available at hospitals in Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff and Newport.
Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr replaces the 85-year-old Caerphilly Miners' Hospital, Ystrad Mynach Hospital, Ty Sirhowy Mental Health Unit and smaller community hospitals in the area.
There are no wards - only ensuite rooms that are intended to help control infections and make patients' stays more dignified.
Mrs Griffiths said: "The NHS is part of the fabric of our society, and the innovative way Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr will benefit this community is indicative of the changes needed to protect the NHS in Wales.
"From having a GP out-of-hours service in the same building as the minor injuries unit, which is available 24 hours a day, and the emergency assessment unit can only make sense."
She said people in the Rhymney Valley could be proud of the hospital, which took its first patients in November.
The official opening comes as ministers face protests from people in mid and west Wales about the future of Aberystwyth's Bronglais Hospital and Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli.
Ministers have accused opponents of scaremongering and say there are no plans to downgrade either hospital.