NHS staff have been redeployed to provide a vital link between hospital patients and their relatives during the coronavirus pandemic.
The current ban on visitors means patients being treated at the Royal Stoke University Hospital are having to rely on emails and social media to keep in touch with their friends and family.
And the number of calls to each ward has increased because people are desperate for the latest news on their relative’s heath.
Now the Patient Advice and Liaison Service has launched a family support service to act as a direct contact between patients and their relatives. Its normal day-to-day duties have dried up during the pandemic.
The family support officers will be available from 8am to 5pm every day. They will update relatives on their loved- ones’ condition, print out emails to give to patients, and listen to any concerns.
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It is hoped that the scheme will allow ward staff to concentrate on direct patient care rather than fielding calls from friends and family.
The scheme is also being extended to Stafford’s County Hospital. The officers are not clinically trained.
Royal Stoke’s head of patient experience Angela Grocott said: “We know it is really difficult for relatives who cannot see their loved-ones while visiting restrictions are in place in our hospitals.
“Many of our wards and department areas have already developed innovative processes where they can liaise with patient’s families and carers and we have made available a number of devices to aid video calls between relatives and patients.
“We hope this service will offer additional comfort to our patients and their relatives knowing that they can still communicate with each other while both remaining safe.”
Visiting is currently suspended for the foreseeable future. The only exceptions are one person being allowed to visit someone receiving end-of-life care, a birthing partner accompanying a woman in labour, or a parent whose child is in hospital.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust is running a family support hotline on 01782 676450. Letters can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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