A HAMPSHIRE hospice has made its beds available to the NHS to help hospitals cope with the escalating number of coronavirus cases.

Managers at Naomi House & Jacksplace suspended respite care for children and young adults last month to prevent large numbers of "high-risk" individuals staying at the facility.

Now Jacksplace has been made available to non-coronavirus patients who need additional care while they are waiting to be discharged from hospital.

Three of the six beds made available to Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are already in use and others are expected to be occupied shortly.

The move aims to ease the pressure on hospitals in Winchester and Basingstoke and help the NHS cope with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.

Mark Smith, chief executive of the charity which runs the two hospices, said: “We feel that dedicating our resources to support the NHS to free up beds for those affected by coronavirus is the best use of our facilities, nurses sand carers.

"We are pleased our skilled care teams and our hospice buildings can be used to support our NHS colleagues at this most difficult time.”

A Naomi House and Jackplace spokesman added: "We look forward to returning to our standard model of delivering a fully comprehensive service for life-limited young adults when the situation allows."

Staff at the hospices are still available to deliver end-of-life care to children and young adults and will also continue to provide telephone counselling and therapy support to families across the region.

"A bereavement suite at Jackplace will remain available to families who have just lost a child.

It is not yet clear how the new partnership with the NHS will be financed.

The charity, which needs to raise £9.2m a year, has suffered a major drop in income as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Naomi House & Jacksplace has closed its network of shops as well as postponing dozens of fundraising events.

Mr. Smith said: “Our charity is entering a most challenging period.

"But we know we must emerge from this crisis able to deliver the same high standards of care, for there are hundreds of children, young adults and families relying on us.

"If the communities we serve can support us now, while we lend a hand to our NHS, it would give us a huge boost at a most difficult time."

The decision to stop providing respite care at Jacksplace was taken last month.

Speaking at the time Mr Smith said: “It was an immensely difficult decision. However, in light of the crisis we face and recent government announcements, we did not feel we could encourage large numbers of high risk individuals to congregate here in the hospice building.

"As things stand, our dedicated doctors, nurses, carers and support staff continue to man the hospice and stand ready to support children and young adults at the end of their life.”