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Keeping patients and loved ones connected during COVID-19

Posted: 18 May 2020

Picture of the logos of letters to a loved one

Strict visiting restrictions have been brought in across all West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic but that hasn’t stopped patients keeping in contact with their loved ones.

The trust has created a number of new initiatives to help keep patients in touch with their families as the absence of contact can add extra worry to an already stressful time.

A family liaison call back service has been set up to support families with daily updates on the health and welfare of their loved one. The team consists of 10 dedicated members of staff both from clinical and non-clinical backgrounds and runs seven days a week.

In addition to the call back service, a visitor helpline has been created, manned by administrative staff redeployed from areas of the trust that have become less busy while the trust focuses its efforts on managing the pandemic. This helpline can deal with general enquiries, signposting to other available services or for arranging to bring in personal items.

Face-to-face contact between patients and their loved ones is hugely important. The trust has provided over 250 iPads for patients, who don’t have their own device, to be able to video call their loved ones. Maintaining a line of visual communication with friends and family during a patient’s time in hospital can make a real difference and the trust have received very positive feedback.

A new messaging service has been established, allowing friends and family to send ‘Letters to a loved one’’. Unlimited messages, including photos, can be sent in via email or telephone which will be printed out and hand delivered to any patient in the trust.

Patient experience lead nurse, Colette Datt said: “Staying in hospital can be a worrying time for patients and their loved ones and the COVID-19 pandemic has added many additional concerns. With the change in visiting restrictions not allowing personal contact with their loved ones, it’s vital for us to do what we can to ensure our patients feel connected and supported during their hospital stay. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from patients and relatives and it’s wonderful to know the initiatives we’ve brought in are making a difference.”



  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: email:, For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust sees around 600,000 patients a year and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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