OPERATIONS at Llandough Hospital were suspended yesterday after thieves stole copper cable from a back-up generator on site.

More than 100 metres of cable was stolen in the theft on Tuesday afternoon, leaving the generator ‘inoperable’.

Back-up steps were taken, but 36 scheduled operations had to be suspended.

The University Health Board Chief Executive Jan Williams called the theft "dangerous and irresponsible".

"NHS staff work tirelessly to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and it is depressing to note that, for these thieves, the monetary value of copper is of more consequence," she said.

Llandough deals with non-emergency operations, including orthopaedic and breast surgery. Paul Hollard, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Planning said the situation was under review.

“The thieves have taken 100 metres of copper cable which connects the generator to the control panel,” he said.

“In addition, several short lengths of cable between the generator alternator and the generator isolator along with metal brackets have been removed. This renders the generator inoperable. In view of the potential risk to patients the UHB has no option but to suspend 36 scheduled operations.

“Work is underway to provide secondary back-up facilities and the situation will be reviewed at lunchtime to decide whether we can resume normal activity today.”

The theft was reported to South Wales Police just after 2pm on Tuesday.

Metal thefts have become an increasing problem across the Vale with the Safer Vale Partnership launching a campaign to promote awareness of the problem.

The campiagn was originally pioneered to prevent thefts from schools.

Councillor Paul Church, chairman of the Safer Vale Partnership said: "Safer Vale has been working with partners to reduce metal theft across the Vale of Glamorgan and to reduce the opportunities for thieves to attack these buildings."

Anyone with information about illegal or suspicious activity in their area can contact the police on 101, or call crimestoppers anonymous on 0800 555 111.