A WREXHAM-based hospice has called on the Welsh Government to support the sector that has been financially crippled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Steve Parry, CEO of Nightingale House Hospice, penned an open letter which explained that the facility - which has a catchment area stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire and East Denbighshire to Barmouth and the border towns including Oswestry and Whitchurch - will not be able to continue helping patients unless there is a ‘fundamental change’ to the way that the site is funded.

He calls on the Welsh Government to help hospice’s like Nightingale House that saw fundraising streams cut off to comply with measures that would halt the virus from spreading.

He said: “Despite the amazing support we have received from the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our hospice will not be able to continue delivering first-class patient services unless there is a fundamental change to the way we are funded.

“As a much-loved facility in the heart of Wrexham, we have never sat back and waited for handouts, that is not the way Nightingale House operates.

“Since the onset of Coronavirus in the UK - with its resulting lockdown and social distancing measures - our traditional fundraising avenues have been decimated, and every effort has been made to seek alternatives and generate fresh income streams.”

Mr Parry says that despite the continued generosity of the public it will not be enough to stop the hospice losing £1.2million this year – with a large portion of that due to the closure of their 11 charity shops and two cafes.

It was also a huge blow to funding income when all fundraising events from March until December where called off.

Mr Parry continued: “Our charity shops have started to reopen, and social distancing measures are in place, but it will be some time before we generate enough income to match previous years. The cafes are scheduled to do the same in early August, but reduced seating capacity will lead to a subsequent drop in profits.

“Our events are always wonderfully supported by the community and were expected in our 25th anniversary year to contribute £250,000 towards the provision of patient services. This vital income source has been taken away from us.”

The hospice chief went on to say that since the onset of the pandemic, Nightingale House is seeing a reduction in the level of donations from the public stating that between April and June this year they received £100,000 less than the same period in 2019.

Mr Parry says that much like the tourism industry, fundraising is seasonal and typically peaks in the summer months of July and August.

He said: “Autumn through to spring – with the exception of the festive season – are traditionally very lean periods when people continue to be generous, but we feel the strain.

“Nightingale House has successfully overcome many obstacles in the past but the severe financial pressure we are currently experiencing as a consequence of this pandemic provides us with the greatest challenge in our history.”

Mr Parry says that initial negotiations between Hospice UK and Westminster secured £200million for palliative care facilities, with £6.3m of that amount to be specifically committed to independent charitable hospices in Wales in order to enable the continued delivery of patient services until previous income streams could be restored.

In his letter, Mr Parry said: “We were awarded £200,000 for the month of April and were expecting to receive the same for May and June to help us through this crisis – a total of £600,000 over three months.

“Since that first award, not a penny has been received by Nightingale House Hospice, and communication has broken down. We have heard nothing.

“At a time when all sectors of our community are feeling extreme pressure, we ask the Welsh Government to recognise this and support us by releasing the additional funding we were promised at a time when we need it most.”

“Nobody predicted we would be hit by a global pandemic; the finger cannot be pointed at the Welsh or UK Governments for that. But where there must be accountability is in the fact this hospice – and the sector in general – has been chronically underfunded for more than a decade in Wales. “

Mr Parry says that hospices in Wales will continue to comply with Welsh Government requirements for monitoring and providing a transparent account of activity and finances.

He said: “We need parity with the rest of the UK if we are to continue to provide the best patient care to our community. Equality is vital, but most importantly in the coming weeks there must be discussions and assurances provided on how this essential sector can be supported through this crisis and preserved for the future.”

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.