Senedd roundup: Deaths in care homes in Wales more than double this time last year

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Figures obtained by Plaid Cymru have revealed that deaths in adult care Homes in Wales have more than doubled in April compared with the corresponding period last year.

According to Care Inspectorate Wales a total of 486 deaths were recorded between April 1st and 14th. The corresponding figure for 2019 was 220.

There was a similar increase in the total number of deaths between March 26th and April 8th (431) compared with the same period in 2019 (229).

Earlier this week Health Minister Vaughan Gethin reported there have been 75 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the 1,073 care homes in Wales with another 217 suspected cases. He added 128 tests had been carried out in care homes in the past week.

Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said: “Although we cannot be sure of the cause of death, it is highly concerning that the number of deaths reported in care homes in Wales has more than doubled compared to the corresponding period last year.”

“If, and it would seem logical to assume, that many are dying having contracted Covid-19, the true number of deaths from the virus is being significantly under reported.”

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Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig yet to treat any patients

The NHS Wales chief executive, Andrew Goodall has revealed the field hospital set up at the Millennium Stadium has yet to treat a single patient.

Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig currently has close to 300 beds available and will be able to accommodate up to 2,000 patients by the time it is fully operational.

Speaking at the Welsh government press conference on Thursday he explained the facility was unused at present because existing NHS beds were under-occupied, possibly due to a drop in the number of patients visiting hospitals with other health issues.

Revealing 46% of hospital beds in Wales were empty and 49% of critical care beds are available, he said: “I’m concerned that people may not be seeking medical help for illnesses and symptoms not related to Covid-19. Some people may be waiting too long to seek urgent assessment and treatment.”

The number of people attending A&E departments in Wales is 60% of down from this time last year and the number of patients attending GP surgeries is down 20-25%.

When asked if the peak of the crisis had now been reached in Wales, Dr Goodall replied: “There are encouraging signs. There are lots of unknown elements about how this virus develops. We hope it’s possible we may be seeing some stabilisation soon but I think it’s too early to call whether that is the peak of the curve and whether there may be some other times during the course of the year where we may see some of this curve up here again.”

There are currently 1,335 people in hospital in Wales with confirmed or suspected Covid-19. Total deaths in Wales has climbed to 495 with 32 additional deaths announced today.

Photo by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

Mental health support scheme extended to all frontline healthcare worker in Wales

A free mental health support service for doctors is to be expanded to provide support and advice for all front-line NHS Wales staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Welsh Government is providing an additional £1m of funding to support the Health for Health Professionals Wales service. The money will be used to increase the number of psychiatrists,  medical advisers and counsellors currently employed on the scheme

The service, run by Cardiff University, will offer advice to all healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, healthcare professional students, paramedics, therapists, dentists and medical volunteers working in Wales during and post the pandemic.

NHS Wales staff will be able to call a confidential helpline to access face-to-face counselling sessions and self-help tools and online resources.

Professor Debbie Cohen, director of Health for Health Professionals, said: ”This is an extremely difficult time for healthcare workers who are on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 so we are expanding our doctors’ support scheme so everyone is able to access the same psychological support, regardless of what role they have in the Welsh NHS and where they are in Wales.

They may be feeling guilt for not being able to go into work while others are able to, or trauma from what they are seeing each day on the front line. It is absolutely vital that these workers have a confidential space where they feel they can talk to peers and can access help and support in a way that suits them.”

The service is available by calling 0800 058 2738, visiting www.hhpwales.co.uk/ or by emailing HHPCOVID19@cf.ac.uk

Increased funding for children’s mental health support

The Welsh Government has made £1.25m available to provide additional mental health support for children who may be experiencing increased stress or anxiety as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The funding, announced by Education Minister Kirsty Williams, will be provided for school counselling services to deal with an anticipated increase in demand since the start of the pandemic.

The government already provides funding to local authorities to deliver counselling services in schools – the additional funding will allow an increase of staffing, following recruitment of counsellors over the last year.

New guidance and online resources for mental health are also being developed to help deal with additional issues created by the Coronavirus.

Kirsty Williams said: “We expect an increase in demand for mental health support, as children have concerns over the impact of the Coronavirus on people’s health or on their education. With the necessary restrictions on how much time children can spend outdoors, in order to halt the spread of the virus, we must also be prepared for an impact on children’s emotional wellbeing.

We’ve been investing in counselling services and mental health support over the past year and provided funding to local authorities to deliver counselling services in schools and recruited additional counsellors.

We need to start addressing issues now, not store them up for after the lockdown.”

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j humphrys

Many people all over Europe seem to be holding back on visiting doctors etc, probably feeling they would be “in the way”.
I find this heartening, showing people really do care about others. But they should be encouraged to get to their clinics.