A NURSE giving end-of-life care to terminally ill patients has spoken of her fear of working during the coronavirus outbreak – as the charity she works for faces hardship in their bid to alleviate strain from the NHS.

People like Lynne Ritchie, a Marie Curie Nurse who works across Bury and Lancashire, are more important now than ever before as the health service faces a major battle to give critical care to thousands of additional patients during the pandemic.

However operating during the outbreak has proven harder than imagined for both Ms Ritchie and the charity she works for as funds dry up and fear creeps in.

But despite concerns over both her safety and the health of her patients, Ms Ritchie has said nothing will stop her from giving the support and attention needed to those who continue to need it most.

The mum-of-three said: “It is more frightening now, you don’t always know what to expect when you’re walking into people’s homes.

“Not only is there the fear of contracting the virus, it’s also the fear of ensuring you keep all of your patients as safe and healthy as possible, so it can be quite daunting.

“However those fears soon disappear once you get in with them and on with the job at hand. It’s like something inside of me kicks in and I know I just need to provide the care and support I’m there for.

“I’m sure all of my colleagues would agree with me when I say we’re all being extremely well looked after by our manager and have all the PPE necessary to make sure we are all keeping as safe as possible.

“The support from our teams has been really fantastic.”

Ms Ritchie, from Rawtenstall, has worked in care for the last fifteen years and described the current climate as among the hardest she’s experienced during her time as a nurse.

But it isn't only in her work life where Ms Ritchie has experienced change as the outbreak has also meant she hasn't seen any of her three children or grandchildren for several weeks, like thousands of others across the country.

She said: "It's awful, not being able to see my family, but I know it's what we need to do to stay safe and the more we follow the rules the sooner we will be able to return to normal.

"We're just making the most of using Facetime, phone calls and messages to stay in touch."

On top of the safety concerns, Ms Ritchie has also admitted she does worry about how the charity she works for will continue to raise the vital funds necessary to provide care during this time - a sentiment echoed by the charity's bosses.

She said: “I feel extremely privileged to work for Marie Curie and the work they are carrying out is really fantastic. I do sometimes feel like they don’t get the praise they deserve.

“The staff are looked after so well and nothing is ever too much trouble and it’s such an amazing place to work. It saddens me that we’re facing hardship at the moment with maintaining the donations we need to keep up the work we’re doing.”

Marie Curie has pledged to support additional dying patients across Greater Manchester and Lancashire to help relieve pressure on the NHS during the crisis, meaning nurses like Lynne will soon be looking after even more terminally ill people in their homes.

But despite the promise to look after as many people as they can, charity bosses have also expressed concerns over their ability to generate vital funding to ensure the work they do can continue.

The charity’s chief executive Matthew Read said: “At this time of national emergency, Marie Curie nurses and frontline staff are needed more than ever as the NHS is put under ever greater strain.

“We are ready and geared up to help, with hospice beds and nurses on standby.

“Sadly, some people’s lives will be shortened by Coronavirus, so the need for end of life care will be greater. Marie Curie can meet this need, and in doing so will help free up intensive care beds needed for Coronavirus patients.

“But just as we want to help, our income has been decimated. We need donations urgently to keep our Nurses and Hospice staff on the frontline.

“Unlike other healthcare providers, Marie Curie is reliant on donations from the public to survive. Every week the charity needs to raise £2.5million to care for the tens of thousands of people who require nursing and hospice care.

"Now, our ability to fundraise is seriously compromised. Events are being cancelled, and we’ve had to close our Shops. That is why we have launched an emergency appeal to make up the shortfall and ensure the charity can care for more dying patients, support the NHS and ultimately save lives in the weeks and months ahead.”