PATIENTS can now enjoy hospital radio thanks to the dedication of hard working volunteers and fundraisers.

Fundraising by the hospital radio volunteers and financial support from County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust’s charity has led to the development of a second studio, based at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The team has been broadcasting from Bishop Auckland Hospital for 40 years, having started in 1978, and the service expanded in 2005 to include listeners at The Richardson Hospital, Barnard Castle.

Station chairman Craig Robinson, who combines his volunteer role with working in the Trust’s IT department, said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our service to benefit patients, staff and visitors to Darlington Memorial Hospital and have changed the station’s name from ‘Auckland Hospital Radio’ to ‘Prince Bishops Hospital Radio’, to mark the occasion. We have around 15 volunteers who work hard to bring entertainment to the bedside, via headphones, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’re very excited that patients at Darlington Memorial Hospital will now benefit from our service. Patients at our other sites really seem to appreciate how ‘close to home’ we are and that they can request a dedication for a fellow patient or member of staff.

“Families can contact us to request a mention for a loved one who’s a patient, along with a favourite record and we also broadcast an hourly news bulletin. As a registered charity the station doesn’t receive any funding and relies on donations and money we raise ourselves.

“County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has shown great support to us over the past 40 years and continue to recognise the value that hospital radio can bring to the patient experience."

Noel Scanlon, executive director of nursing, said, “We’re very lucky to have a team of dedicated volunteers committed to bringing a radio service to our hospitals in Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle and now Darlington, to benefit patients and colleagues. The very personal nature of the service will support the sense of community within the hospital and provide much needed diversion and stimulation to patients in hospital for short and long periods as well as providing entertainment in communal areas in various parts of the hospital.”

The Trust’s Charity development manager, Pat Chambers, said: “We’re delighted to help bring hospital radio to the Memorial Hospital, offering a very personal service for our patients. This is exactly the kind of project the charity is keen to support.”