A NEW service has been launched to help family and friends stay in touch with their loved ones being cared for in hospital during the coronavirus outbreak.

Currently, visiting restrictions are currently in place at Whiston, St Helens and Newton hospitals.

Visiting is only permitted for patients who are receiving end-of-life care, birthing partners in the maternity unit and parents or legal guardians in the children’s’ wards.

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust took the decision to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and keep patients and staff safe.

Today, the trust’s Patient Advice and Liaison Team, commonly known as PALS, have launched the ‘penPALS’ service, encouraging people to email letters and photographs to their loved ones.

These will then be printed off by the team before they are delivered directly to the ward.

The penPALS service applies to any patients currently in Whiston, St Helens and Newton hospitals.

Ann Marr, chief executive of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are very proud of our PALS team for helping family and friends to stay in touch during these times.

“Not being able to visit your loved one in hospital is incredibly difficult and while suspending visiting was a hard decision to make, it is the responsible thing to do to protect both patients and staff.

“We will continue to do all we can to help keep families connected.”

To use the penPALS service simply email messages, letters and pictures to pals@sthk.nhs.uk

The PALS team will ensure that all well-wishes and messages are delivered to patients.