BARNSLEY Hospital’s intensive care unit is calling on local knitters to make hearts for patients and their loved ones during the coronavirus outbreak.

A nurse from Barnsley Hospital has launched the ‘Knitted Hearts Appeal’ where keen knitters will donate matching pairs of hearts to loved ones who are unable to visit family members in the intensive care unit because of new visiting restrictions.

A hospital spokesperson said: “The appeal was started in Barnsley by one of our staff nurses, Melissa Finan.

“The idea is to have twin pairs of small knitted or crocheted hearts.

“One is given to a patient in intensive care and the other is inserted into a card and posted out to the patient’s loved ones.

“The heart and card reinforce the sense of love and connection between families and patients during hospital visiting restrictions.”

The hospital have been inundated with the knitted hearts and hope to expand this around the hospital.

“The scheme first started in the intensive care unit but staff hope to extend it across the whole hospital.

“The hospital has been overwhelmed with beautiful hearts, support and donations to the scheme, and wants to send out a massive thank you to Barnsley people.”

Barnsley Hospital do, however, want to stress that safety is paramount when making and posting the hearts to the hospital and that they follow strict regulations.

“Members of the public are mailing the hearts to the hospital. It’s very important to stress that the hearts go through a strict infection control process.

“Two hearts are placed in a dated plastic bag and then left for five days with no one opening the bag.

“It’s very important that anyone mailing hearts should not make an unnecessary trip to the postbox, but only post out their hearts during their one-hour exercise session.”

Sheryll Dixon, who chairs the Penistone Knitting Group that knits blankets and twiddle muffs for premature babies in ICU, said: “I think it’s an absolutely lovely idea.

“I’ve been encouraging my knitters to get involved in this as its not only massively important for our ICU department, but it’s also important for keeping our knitters busy.

“As a group, we’re used to face-to-face contact so it has been increasingly difficult for us all.

“It’s been hard to keep up the distribution of our knits during this climate, so the fact it will be easier and safer to post them to the hospital is fantastic.

“The most important thing is to support those in ICU and their families who will need our support, and that’s what we do it for.”