Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, contributed to a Senedd debate last on palliative care during the pandemic.
Speaking in the Chamber Nick said: “Many colleagues in this debate have rightly focused on the impact of COVID-19 on individuals needing end-of-life care and their families who, in normal circumstances, would've been able to comfort and support them during this time. Over the last year, there have been some harrowing stories of patients nearing the end of life in hospital or in a care home, where that natural family love and support has not been possible.
“End-of-life care is not just important to how a person dies, but how a person's life is given meaning; how, in part, it is remembered. It not only relates to medical care, but to personal care too. The involvement of family and close friends is at the heart of that. What's been so difficult for those people and their relatives over recent months has been the absence of what would normally be expected when someone is nearing the end of their life and the associated distress for families. And of course, as we've heard, it's not just families who have suffered, it's staff too.
“High-quality palliative care and bereavement support services are needed for families and staff, recognising some of the trauma of the past 10 months. We need to better understand the impact on our staff and how the experiences of this pandemic have shaped their view of their role and the services they provide, and what the battle against COVID means for recruitment of tomorrow's health and care staff.
Nick continued: “We all know that, in ordinary times, our health and care staff work in tough environments, but no-one could've foreseen some of the conditions in hospital wards and care home rooms over recent months, where so many people have lost their lives. In many cases, staff have not just been doing their job and providing palliative care, but they've acted as surrogate families, where family members were not allowed to visit. If we're serious about responding to the consequences of this pandemic, we need to rethink how bereavement services and support are provided. That's why I'm supporting our call for a national bereavement framework and that we recognise that sufficient funding is needed to ensure that COVID-19 does not create another pandemic—that of poor mental health.
“In conclusion, I ask Members to support this motion. Let's strive to help patients with long-term and terminal illnesses access the care that they and their families need. Let's strive to ensure that our doctors and nurses can access a proper support network to help with their emotional well-being, and let's ensure that people from all parts of Wales can access professional bereavement services.”