Awyr Las, North Wales

Sharing Covid best practice to improve treatment for patients, bereavement support for patients, and supporting the mental health of staff

The North Wales NHS Charity, Awyr Las, used NHS Charities Together grants in a number of ways, including funding a specialist Covid junior doctor to share the latest developments around Covid treatment to improve outcomes for patients. 

Funds have also supported a Staff Wellbeing Support Service to provide psychological support for NHS staff when they are working in difficult circumstances at the most challenging time in NHS history. 

Dr Dan Menzies, Consultant Chest Physician at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan said:

Dr Dan Menzies © Daily Express

“During the last year I have mainly been looking after the sickest patients with Covid requiring high levels of respiratory support. Thanks to the donations we’ve received, we’ve been able to fund a Covid Medical Fellowship, so a specialist junior doctor can stay abreast of the latest in Covid treatment and share best practice with colleagues. We’ve also been able to purchase items for staff ‘wobble rooms’ and the charitable support has funded a staff wellbeing support service and digital devices for virtual visiting. These are just some of the examples of how support from the public has helped us and our patients. 

“Doctors and nurses have been stretched to breaking point. It’s been overwhelming in some regards. The wellbeing and support service for staff has enabled clinicians to be looked after and we have all benefitted from that.” 

Dan works on the Covid ward at Glan Clwyd, and has seen first-hand the Staff Wellbeing Service. He is leading on the Covid Fellowship that was funded by NHS Charities Together.  

Funds from NHS Charities Together have helped meet the practical needs of frontline staff, including white goods, devices, food and furniture for their rest spaces so that they can focus on delivering life-saving care. 

“We are incredibly indebted to the support from NHS Charities Together which has enabled us to achieve so much. We have spent wisely.” 

Dr Dan Menzies, Consultant Chest Physician

In addition digital devices have enabled virtual visiting, which has been more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic when patients are isolated from loved ones at the most difficult of times. 

Kate Sinclair, Staff Nurse, ICU at Wrexham Maelor Hosptial said:

“The funding has made all the difference to so many patients and staff. It has been so traumatic seeing patients isolated from loved ones during the pandemic. We were able to fund devices that enabled patients to see their loved ones, tragically sometimes to say goodbye to them, which made all the difference to them at that difficult moment.  

“The support for staff has also boosted morale and enabled us to carry on in the most challenging working circumstances we have ever experienced. It means a lot to know that the nation is behind us.”  

Kate Sinclair © Daily Express

For patients, donations have funded small but significant items like baby monitors and blood pressure machines to monitor expectant mothers and heart failure patients in their own homes.  

The grants funded large, life-changing programmes like the Health Board’s bereavement support service, its carers support service, the chronic pain management virtual support service and a talking therapy service for mental health service users. 

Young patients in hospitals have also benefitted, with frontline staff organising children’s inpatient activity bags, and extra at-home monitoring equipment for children with diabetes.  

Testimonials from NHS staff at The North Wales NHS Charity, Awyr Las, include: 

“The blood pressure monitors funded have helped our team of nurses to continue the vital work of monitoring cardiac patients who are self-isolating at home. These monitors have been, and continue to be, invaluable. Thank you to everyone who made the support we’ve received possible.” – Andy Bennett, Heart Failure Specialist Nurse  

“The Talking Therapies programme, provided in partnership with Mind and Advanced Brighter Futures, provides an early intervention for people experiencing low mood, anxiety and depression. People self-refer onto the service, and from April referrals have increased by 50%. The therapy is delivered by talking therapy specialists who provide group therapy or 1:1 counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. COVID-19 has heightened the need for this service – now our valued partners are able to increase their capacity, which has drastically improved waiting times.” – Ruth Robinson, Commissioning Manager for Mental Health & Learning Disabilities