MARK Drakeford AM, the former minister for health and social services who officially broke the ground to start work at the £5m, 15-bed St David’s Hospice Care inpatient centre, has returned to see the completed building.

Professor Drakeford, now cabinet secretary for finance and local government, was given a guided tour of the recently opened centre at Malpas, Newport, by St David’s Hospice Care chief executive Emma Saysell.

Professor Drakeford, on his first visit since turning the turf 18 months ago, said: “What has been built here really has exceeded my expectations. As soon as I turned the corner and saw the building I felt an immense feeling of a sense of calm which carried on when I walked through the door.

“It was similar feeling of absolute calm to that which I had when the day hospice was opened. They are both fantastic facilities which provide excellent care for people at the time in their lives when they are most in need.

“The design of the inpatient hospice is exceptional allowing patients wonderful views from their rooms on the patio over the open countryside in one direction and also views of houses and people going about their daily lives in another so patients don’t in any way feel cut off or isolated.

“I feel immensely proud and privileged to have been able to have played a small part in bring this about.”

Professor Drakeford was joined on the visit by former presiding officer of the assembly, former Newport West AM Dame Rosemary Butler and St David’s Hospice Care chairman Malgwyn Davies.

Emma Saysell said: “It was a real pleasure and treat to be able to welcome Mark back for him to have a private look around the new in-patient hospice and to see completed what he helped start when he turned the first turf on site in January 2016.

“We are thrilled to have completed what is the first purpose-built voluntary sector in-patient hospice in Wales this century. We are so grateful to Welsh Government and Newport City Council for recognising and investing in our shared vision.

“Our care depends on the ongoing support from our local community and we hope they will continue to support us in the future so we can provide the very best hospice and end of life care”

The Welsh Government invested £3m in the project which will expand the in-patient palliative care service for terminally ill patients and their families.