Hospitals across Lincolnshire welcomed a pleasant surprise this week as national charity Pets As Therapy (PAT) received funding to bring dogs into wards.

With the help of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Charity, labradoodle Ruby and terrier Patrick have been making visits to Pilgrim, Lincoln County, and Grantham District Hospital.

Carol Marchant, who was staying on a ward at Grantham, said: “Seeing Patrick has been so lovely. I had only just finished on FaceTime with my own dogs when Patrick came in. It was just what I needed. The visit was so uplifting for me. Thank you.”

Labradoodle Ruby meets Lincoln County Hospital patient. Photo: United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

A staff member added: “Having these visits is not only great for our patients but also our staff. There has been a real buzz around the wards and areas where the visits have taken place. It really has been great for everyone. I cannot believe how well behaved and well trained they are.”

Pets As Therapy aims to improve mental health and wellbeing for people who may be temporarily separated from their own pets.

Volunteers for the charity also come along on visits to provide human conversation alongside animal companionship.

Matthew Robinson, Head of Income Generation and Marketing at PAT, said: “We are delighted to see our volunteers visiting the Trust and the difference it will bring to patients. It was clear to see from the first visit how much comfort the animals can bring.

“The joy on patients’ faces is what it is all about and we want to continue bringing this to those in hospital.”

Grantham and District Hospital staff pose for a photo with Patrick. Photo: United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Gary Burr, Charity Fundraiser for the ULH NHS Trust, said: “We’ve been advocating a visit for quite a while, and we’re thrilled to make this happen.”

“The charity is here to support incredible initiatives like this and improve patient experience.

“We are very grateful to the Patient Experience Team and the PAT charity for supporting this project. Going onto the wards and seeing patients’ faces when the dogs visited showed me just how important this is for their wellbeing.

“It’s good for the patients and the staff to see the dogs, and we want to make sure this is a regular thing.”

All pets are temperament-trained and vaccinated before being sent out to wards.