This is Play in Hospitals Week and that gives us the chance to shine a light on a very special group of staff who support our youngest patients.

If you have ever spent time in hospital with your child you will probably have met some of this team – armed with bubbles and big smiles  - who make hospital a less daunting place for our younger patients.

And this year the Oxford University Hospitals Play Specialist team, who work across the Oxford Children’s Hospital, Horton, NOC and Emergency and Intensive Care areas, were chosen to be the face of the national celebrations.

The charity team are really thrilled about this, as we see first hand how dedicated and professional the team of 24 play specialists are in their daily dealings with babies, toddlers and teens (not to mention the parents).

Whether coaxing giggles from a baby in pain, distracting toddlers during difficult procedures or calming teens afraid of what lies ahead - they are simply invaluable.

On a typical day, play staff see approximately 100 children, preparing them for surgery, distracting them from invasive procedures, and providing them with coping techniques and emotional support.

And thanks to your support our charity is able help them in their work by funding specialist toys, tech and play areas.

We are also really thrilled to have recently provided funding for a new play specialist role in Radiology.

Sonia, who is a senior Play Specialist, will use her skills to help a huge number of children avoid the need for general anaesthetic when having MRI scans - allowing them to get home more quickly.

Some young patients – like those with spinal and brain injuries and certain cancers, have a lot of MRI’s  – so avoiding the need for a general anaesthetic, and therefore an extra night in hospital, makes a huge difference. Sonia will also be helping young patients having Urodynamics, Fluoroscopy and Renal scans.

Funding for this new role has all come from Oxford Hospitals Charity, much of it from our annual OX5 RUN that took place earlier this year. So if you were one of our five mile runners in March – look what you have helped to achieve.

Jo Pinney, Senior Health Play Specialist at OUH, said: “We’d really like to thank all those groups and individuals who help us in our work  - you make such a difference! We are also thrilled that we have been chosen to launch Play in Hospital Week. It gives us the opportunity to show to our colleagues here at Oxford University Hospitals, and nationally, what brilliant services we offer here – and how play is so important to young patients.”

So as we celebrate Play in Hospitals Week, we’d like to thank every single Play Specialist working in our hospitals – and also thank you – our amazing supporters – for helping us fund so much to help our youngest patients – including this very important new play specialist role!

Help make a difference to thousands of Oxfordshire families by making a donation to the Oxford Children's Hospital today:

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