Welsh Conservative Mrs Davies said that Wales had lost 30 per cent of its hospital beds over the past 20 years and blamed the closure of smaller hospitals like Maesgwyn for reducing the number of step-down beds available for patients who no longer need an acute bed but are not well enough to go home.

She said: “ We saw only last week that ABMu has one of the worst records in Wales on bed blocking where mainly elderly people are left in acute beds which they don’t need simply because there is nowhere else for them to go.

“This causes delays in A&E where patients who do need acute beds are left on trolleys and also results in cancelled elective operations.

“The knock-on effects can be clearly seen in the long delays patients are having to endure waiting for operations like hip replacements.

“The beds crisis also impacts on ambulance services as vehicles stack up outside hospitals like Princess of Wales waiting to discharge patients into Emergency departments which have no room for them.

“This whole crisis stems from a lack of hospital beds. It was a mantra within the health service from the 1990’s onwards that fewer beds would be needed because of increased day surgery. But managers failed to take account of our ageing population and the high numbers of people now living into their 80’s and 90’s whose need for hospital services is much higher than the general population.

“While there may be concerns about patients becoming “institutionalised” by long stays in a smaller hospital, it’s happening anyway but in our larger hospitals and the wrong beds.

“It is time that the Welsh NHS took a serious look at how many beds it provides and how many are actually needed. “