Hospices in Wales to receive three-month package of funding worth up to £6.3m

A three-month package of additional support worth up to £6.3 million has been announced for hospices in Wales.

The services rely on charitable fundraising for around two-thirds of their income, and have seen shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid lockdown measures, fundraising events have been cancelled, charity shops have been forced to close and campaigns have been paused.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said the money would enable hospices to continue providing their vital services in the absence of such fundraising activity.

“As their normal charitable income dries up there is a very serious risk that hospice and end of life care services could slip into insolvency,” Mr Gething said.

“Hospice and end of life care services provided by the voluntary sector are a critical part of the NHS family, providing essential care to more than 20,000 people in Wales each year, and helping to prevent avoidable admission to hospital.

“As the NHS prioritises treatment and care for people with Covid-19, hospice and end of life care services are more important than ever, providing service continuity to people affected by terminal illness.

“This money will ensure they can continue to provide those vital services and high-quality care across Wales.”

The cash will come from a £1.1 billion fund created by the Welsh Government to respond to the pandemic.

Figures released on Saturday showed that a total of 534 people have died with confirmed coronavirus in Wales, an increase of 28 deaths since Friday’s figures.

Public Health Wales said the figures related to people who had a laboratory-confirmed case of Covid-19, with the majority of deaths occurring in hospital settings and some in care homes.

By health board area, the deaths were located as follows: 195 in Aneurin Bevan, 113 in Cardiff and Vale, 129 in Cwm Taf Morgannwg and 84 in Swansea Bay.

The 13 other deaths were in three health board areas – Betsi Cadwaladr, Hywel Dda and Powys – that have seen a “very small” number of fatalities.

Figures for these health boards are not being shown to protect the identities of those who died there.

Dr Chris Williams, incident director for the novel coronavirus outbreak at Public Health Wales, said: “Novel coronavirus is still circulating in every part of Wales, and the single most important action we can all take in fighting the virus is to stay at home.”

Tributes were paid to Brian Mfula, a lecturer in mental health nursing at Swansea University, who died with coronavirus on Friday.

Professor Ceri Phillips, head of the college of human and health services, said the institution had been “inundated with messages of condolence”.

“Students have described Brian as an inspiring teacher and role model who taught from the heart, and had a passion for mental health and nursing,” Prof Phillips said.

“Brian was also recognised as a dedicated family man, and our thoughts and prayers are extended to his wife Mercy and children Kato, Nkweto, Thabo and Thandiwe for their tragic loss.”

Swansea Bay University Health Board paid tribute to Jenelyn Carter, a healthcare assistant who died after being treated for coronavirus.

The health board said she had worked on the admissions ward at Morriston Hospital and was “loved by all her colleagues and patients”.

Mark Madams, nurse director of the hospital, said: “Jenelyn would go the extra mile for anyone, and was a lovely caring person inside and out, with a heart of gold.

“We are devastated by her death and offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends.”

In Ceredigion, grandfather Rhythwyn Evans raised tens of thousands of pounds for his local health board charity by walking 91 laps around his bungalow on his 91st birthday.

He completed the first 21 laps before breakfast at 7.30am and finished the challenge at 5.30pm, telling those watching at a distance that he was going to have “a good night’s sleep”.

The farmer, who uses a walking stick and is self-isolating at home with his wife Gwyneth, said he had lived to “a ripe old age” and wanted “to give something back to the community”.

On Saturday, it was announced that the first batch of hand sanitiser made by Welsh whisky brand Penderyn was on its way to NHS hospitals in Wales.

The company is producing 10,000 litres of hand sanitiser per week, made to the World Health Organisation formulation and approved for use by the NHS in Wales.