NHS Thursday Nikitta Jones and Nikos Minadakis

DPD has helped turn a palliative care nurse's idea into a nationwide initiative to provide much needed welfare and treat packs for patients and NHS staff.

The new initiative - called NHS Thursday - will see thousands of welfare packs and food and treat packs collated and distributed by DPD, to 160 NHS hospitals nationwide.

The items have been donated by DPD staff - either extra items that they had at home, or things they have been able to pick up while doing their usual shopping.

The list of items has been agreed with the NHS and deliveries coordinated with DPD's existing NHS contacts.

The welfare pack includes cosmetics and toiletries such as shampoo, shower gel, sanitary products, toothpaste, make-up, shaving foam and disposable razors.

The food and treat packs contain instant noodles, energy drinks, biscuits, crisps, tea and coffee.

The idea came from Nikitta Jones (pictured with partner Nikos Minadakis), a palliative care nurse at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon, the Cynon Valley Hospital, near Merthyr Tydfil.

Minadakis is a DPD driver based in the Cardiff depot and Jones had explained to him that families are no longer allowed to visit the ward under the current COVID-19 restrictions, and in addition to the loss of contact, patients aren't getting supplies and treats from home.

"The whole team on Ward Six are amazing and I'm so proud of the work they do, but it is very difficult at the moment to give our patients everything they need," she said. "It is important to be able to maintain their dignity and give them the kind of home comforts their families would normally bring in. So, partly this is about providing essential items for personal hygiene and partly it is about being able to treat our patients the way their families would."

Minadakis spoke to colleagues who suggested Nikitta email DPD chief executive Dwain McDonald direct. As a result, all 68 DPD depots got involved in collecting, collating and delivering the packs.

Staff were encouraged to work with local hospitals using existing contacts and friends to verify requirements.

Each depot has been helping up to six different hospitals in their area and the hospital's regular DPD driver will then deliver the packs to their contact at a prearranged time.

McDonald commented: "When Nikitta explained the issue, it was a no-brainer. But neither of us were expecting it to turn into a nationwide initiative. We have been blown away by the response from staff. We are incredibly busy at the moment, but everyone we spoke to within DPD wanted to help.

"Nikitta originally only asked for a bag of shopping for her own ward, but in talking to her and the team it has turned into something far bigger. Everyone has jumped on this and we still have more donations coming in. I can see us running this again next week and for as long as it is required.

"The packs are designed for patients and the NHS staff themselves. We wanted to help people like Nikitta look after everyone, but we also wanted to say a massive thank you to NHS workers and help keep their energy levels up too."