COUNSELLING appointments will be offered for the relatives, 'support bubble' members or friends of Covid-19 inpatients at Oxford University Hospitals.

Qualified counsellors at the NHS trust will offer a 45 minute counselling appointment over the phone and direct people in need of further support to community services and charities such as CRUSE, Talking Space or Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

These appointments will take place from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

The service is confidential, and those using it are not treated as patients.

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Hanna Wakelin, OUH counsellor, commented: "Covid-19, and the associated lockdown, is hard for all of us.

"It is even harder when someone we know is in hospital.

"We are providing a confidential, supportive counselling service: the aim is to listen, validate and normalise people's feelings, check in with them about their wellbeing and steer them towards longer-term solutions if they need them."

To help people access the service, OUH's family liaison service and Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) staff can pass on the contact details of patients' relatives or friends to the trust's counsellors.

Alternatively, staff can give an email address out to patients' relatives or friends, so that they can contact the counsellors directly.