SOUTHAMPTON families can stay in touch with hospital-bound loved ones during the coronavirus crisis with a new messaging service.

Staff across University Hospital Southampton are finding “innovative ways” for families and friends to communicate while coronavirus safety restrictions are in place.

The care team at the hospital is now accepting messages via email which will then be printed, laminated and delivered to patients.

They are also offering the chance for people to drop off small gifts and letters which they will pass on.

The seven day a week service which runs from 9.30am until 11.30am, launched on April 14 with patients receiving more than 100 messages, pictures and photographs.

Vicki Havercroft-Dixon, head of patient relations at UHS said: “It is really important we look at ways to keep families in touch with loved ones during this difficult period.

“This way gives people a chance to try something a bit different to the normal routine methods of communication at a distance and we have already seen the delight on patients’ faces when they receive their letters and gifts.”

She added: “It also gives our staff a morale boost to know they are able to keep people in touch and to see patients’ reactions, while it also gives them a chance to find out a bit more about the person behind the patient.”

It comes after UHS restricted access to the hospital to protect staff and patients during the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 27, the Trust completely closed to visitors and anyone who is not staff or a patient - including limiting one parent to accompany a child patient. Exceptions to the rule are; a parent to accompany a child or if you have an appointment at the hospital.