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Dogs in hospital help put smiles back on faces of child cancer patients

Young cancer patients at a hospital in Birmingham are being helped through their treatment with the aid of specialist therapy dogs.

The Pets in Hospital scheme at Queen Elizabeth Hospital has helped improve patient wellbeing during their stay.

The programme, which has been running for a year, was first rolled out across elderly and other selected wards.

Young patients at the hospital are given time to spend with dogs during their treatment. Credit: UHB Charity/ ITV News

Due to the popularity and success of the project, other wards are now benefiting from the pets, including young cancer patients.

Undergoing cancer treatment can be one of the most stressful experiences of a person's life.

Research has shown being around animals can help reduce anxiety and help reduce the perceived level of pain during treatment.

Liam Herbert, a specialist paediatric therapy radiotherapist, said the positive impact the dogs have had on both patients and staff alike have helped all involved.

"The pets hospital scheme has been going on for a couple of months now at radiotherapy," Mr Herbert said.

"It's been really, really helpful for our patients, especially the young ones.

Staff at the hospital have also benefitted from the scheme. Credit: UHB Charity/ ITV News

"Every time the dogs come in, they're starting to open up, especially some of the quieter ones.

"Not only that, it's really helpful to the adult patients here, and occasionally the staff members as well."

The hospital charity will be expanding the scheme to Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham, as well as nearby Solihull Hospital, giving more patients some much needed relief.

Liam Herbert, a specialist paediatric therapy radiotherapist, praised the scheme. Credit: UHB Charity/ ITV News

Mandy Green, Head of Patient Experience at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, said: "Pets in Hospital is a fantastic scheme that will make a big difference to patients at the hospital.

"Research has shown that animals can have a positive impact on improving patient wellbeing by reducing anxiety, enhancing patient interaction and promoting a calm, positive environment for staff and patients."

Pet owners who have a dog over the age of three are able to sign up their pooch to become a volunteer if they email petsinhospital@uhb.nhs.uk, or you candonate here.