Due to Covid-19 restrictions relatives have been unable to visit but now loved ones can speak to them via video calls thanks to a donation of the iPads from hospital charity Over and Above.

The initiative has been especially welcomed by families with loved ones in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Teamwork from the outreach and resus, patient experience and IT teams at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust saw the two devices being made secure and ready to use within 48 hours.

Since it began offering the service around two weeks ago, there have been about 15 video calls made.

The trust said the feedback had been ‘overwhelmingly positive’, with both patients and their families saying that it has really made a difference.

Gemma Mitchell, from Holsworthy, has been able to speak to her mother Amanda in ICU, throughout her time in hospital.

She said: “It means that I can speak to the nurses as well as being able to see my mum. It’s so helpful, as we haven’t been able to see her for several weeks.

“When we speak to her, we see any reaction in her face, or any movement, which we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

“It’s also nice to be able visualise her in her surroundings – we can see what the ward looks like and the machines around her. It has 100 per cent made a difference to us.”

Juliet Parkin, ICU clinical matron at NDDH, said: “We know how hard it can be for patients and their families at the moment, while visiting is not allowed.

“We hope this small innovation makes a big difference to patients and their loved ones, and we are pleased to be able to offer this service.”

The new video calling service is the latest in the trust’s work to use technology to continue delivering patient care.

There are now 30 NDDH services using video appointments where it is appropriate instead of a face-to-face outpatient or follow up appointment. Other teams using video appointments include maternity, which is using it as a video helpline for new mums.

The software is also helping clinicians work together across the South West.

For example, video consultations are being used by the trust’s paediatric team for clinical discussions with specialists from Bristol and Exeter.