Charity partnership supports family and friends to share messages with patients | News and events

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Charity partnership supports family and friends to share messages with patients

Patients at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) are now able to receive messages of support from their loved ones in a new way following the hospital’s partnership with a charity.

As the NHS manages the demands of coronavirus (COVID-19), visiting to the hospital has been restricted. This means that there are no visitors permitted, except in exceptional circumstances in agreement with the nurse in charge. At the children’s ward, one parent or carer only is allowed, and one birthing partner only with no other visitors is permitted at the maternity department.

The hospital encourages friends and family members to contact patients via phone and video calls during this time.

The Anne Robson Trust, a partner charity of the hospital, is supporting PAHT to provide the Message to a Loved One service to complement this. Family members and friends of inpatients can send a personal message or collate messages and send to Additionally, there is a dedicated phone line (01279 962661 ) which is available between 10am and 12noon, seven days a week, and a staff member or volunteer will write the message down and get the message to your loved one. 

All phone and email messages will be collated by a dedicated team during the morning on the day the message is received, to be distributed to the hospital wards during the afternoon. Messages will then be printed and distributed to patients by the ward staff, which they can keep. This service is currently only available for patients to receive messages, and there is not capacity for messages to be returned at this time. The service is open to family members and friends of patients on all wards.

Shahid Sardar, associate director of patient engagement, said: “We appreciate the understanding of our community as we work to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our patients and people by restricting visiting to our hospital. We recognise that keeping in touch with loved ones is a vital aspect of holistic support for our patients and we encourage family members and friends to contact them via phone and video calls during this time.

“In addition, the Message to a Loved One service is an important way that friends and relatives can show patients that they are thinking about them during their hospital stay. We are extremely grateful to The Anne Robson Trust for generously giving their time to offer this service for our patients.”

Liz Pryor, director of The Anne Robson Trust, said: “We are proud that we are able to extend our partnership with The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust to create a new, supportive service during these extremely challenging times.

“We understand the importance of enabling families and friends to keep in touch with their loved ones. We will continue to work hard to support them.”

Please provide the following information when contacting the service:

  • Your name
  • Your contact details
  • Patient's name
  • Ward
  • Bay
  • Date of birth if known

Leaflet for COVID 19.pdf [pdf] 618KB

Notes to editors:

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust was established in April 1995 and provides services at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, the Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop’s Stortford, and St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping. We have an annual income of around £236,700 million. We have 414 general and acute beds at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and provide a full range of general acute services, including a 24/7 emergency department, an intensive care unit, a maternity unit and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We also provide outpatient and diagnostic services from the Herts and Essex Hospital, Bishop’s Stortford, and St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping.

We employ around 3,500 staff and serve a local population of about 350,000 people living in West Essex and East Hertfordshire, centred on the M11 corridor and the towns of Harlow, Bishop’s Stortford and Epping. Our extended catchment area incorporates a population of up to 500,000 and includes the areas of Hoddesdon, Cheshunt and Broxbourne in Hertfordshire.

In October 2019, the Government announced that we are to receive funding to rebuild a new hospital in Harlow for our patients, community and people. The details around the funding and the timeframe are currently being finalised and we are completing our business case for the new hospital.

The Anne Robson Trust is a charity (No: 1178352) that works in partnership with NHS Trusts to help them set up and run teams of Butterfly Volunteers who provide company and companionship to patients in the last days of life. They also support families who are struggling to come to terms with the imminent death of a loved one. There has been a team of Butterfly Volunteers at The Princess Alexandra Hospital since January 2018.

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.

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