A SIX-bed unit for coronavirus patients has been opened at Wirral Hospice St John's to help ease pressure on local NHS staff.

The centre's sunflower unit has been repurposed and is available for as long as necessary.

Its aim is to help NHS staff working to halt the spread of Covid-19.

A hospice spokesperson told the Globe this afternoon: "To minimise health risks, the Sunflower Unit will be completely focused on patients with COVID-19 while the established 16-bed inpatient ward at the hospice will continue to support patients with other life-limiting illnesses and, as far as is practically possible, without symptoms of the virus itself."

Wirral Globe:

Staff inside the Sunflower Unit. Picture: Billy Howard

He added: "Wirral Hospice St John's clinical, nursing and other support teams are ready to deliver their excellent care and support for people with COVID 19, including those with the underlying conditions that potentially make them more susceptible to it."

"Our medical team is prepared to work flat out to assess all the COVID 19 patient referrals to the hospice being made by Wirral GPs, helping to free up some of the time and resources of its NHS partners who are dealing with the crisis."

Hospice medical consultants will constantly monitor patients and advise daily on the most suitable treatments, supported by NHS colleagues in a cross-sector collaboration.

Because of the current social distancing measures, visits to the new unit can only be allowed in the most special circumstances.

Closest family members, and other carers, will be updated as regularly as possible by telephone and given an email address to send messages of love and support which will be passed on by the unit nurses.

Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group is providing some funding towards the unit but, as ever, the hospice is also reliant on the generous support of its supporters to help us meet all of the costs.

Dr Emma Longford, medical director at the hospice told the Globe: "We know from wider society that the new coronavirus is putting a strain on all of our health and social care services.

"We're proud that the Sunflower Unit at Wirral Hospice St John’s will support our colleagues in the NHS and other healthcare settings, in their selfless and dedicated response to COVID 19.

"Our hospice team will continue to devote all of its specialist experience to those people from our Wirral community who have contracted COVID 19 and we will work tirelessly to relieve any pain or discomfort it brings to them."