THE owner of a film studio on the outskirts of Swansea where a 1,000-bed field hospital was created from scratch has extended his rent-free offer to the health board.
Businessman Roy Thomas initially handed over part of the sprawling Bay Studios site off Fabian Way for the new field hospital for 12 months, but has now allowed Swansea Bay University Health Board to use it rent-free for 16 months.
Mr Thomas said the two parties have agreed “a very reasonable commercial deal” when the 16 months elapse at the beginning of August.
The field hospital was created inside the huge Elba building by Swansea Council on behalf of the health board at a cost of around £18 million.
The Elba was where rear axles for Ford cars and vans had been manufactured and assembled for years. Before that it was a steel and tinplate works.
The field hospital hasn’t been used for patients during the Covid pandemic as hospitals in the region have had sufficient capacity.
Initially it was used for antibody testing, while its main role now is as the mass vaccination centre for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Mr Thomas, who has had his first jab there, said: “It’s terrifically well run, and incredibly efficient.”
The health board’s interim director of finance, Darren Griffiths, said the health board was extremely grateful to Mr Thomas for his support during the pandemic.
“Fortunately, we haven’t had to use the facility as an out-and-out field hospital but it has been put to good use as an invaluable location for a phlebotomy service, which helped reduce footfall on hospital sites, and, most notably, a mass vaccination centre,” said Mr Griffiths.
“Since commissioning the facility we have consistently retained the capability to utilise it as a field hospital should it be required.
“The future of the facility is currently under review within the health board and we are in contact with Mr Thomas regarding how we will work on this in partnership together.”
Meanwhile, some production work has taken place at Bay Studios in recent months.
Mr Thomas said the team behind The Loneliest Boy in the World – a film due for release next year – was based there for eight weeks, with filming taking place in Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire, and on Crymlyn Burrows beach.
He said he was determined to attract more productions to the area.
“It’s my dream to build up the industry at Bay Studios,” he said.