Urgent appeal for children's toys

ACCIDENT and emergency staff at Ipswich Hospital today issued an urgent appeal to help the thousands of children who come through its doors every year.

ACCIDENT and emergency staff at Ipswich Hospital today issued an urgent appeal to help the thousands of children who come through its doors every year.

Just over 18 months ago the children's waiting area was kitted out with more than £500 of new play equipment but over time the contents of the toy box has been depleted.

Suzanne Gregory, the department's play specialist, said: “A lot of the time children pick them up and won't let them go and it's a bit hard to demand them back.

“Other times I think they just get dropped in bags or buggies and people don't even realise they have them.

“Over the past few months the toys have gradually disappeared leaving our toy boxes empty and the children who attend the department with very little choice of toys to play with.”

Being rushed to hospital with an injury or sudden illness can be terrifying for most children and toys can be one of the most effective ways of alleviating that fear.

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Mrs Gregory said: “Toys help to bring normality. It's something they can relate to in what can be quite a scary environment for them.

“We use them to distract children while they are having procedures or to show them what they are going to have done.

“Playing also helps the medical and nursing staff to assess a child's injury or illness.

“Without the toys we have a very unhappy waiting area with stressed children and parents.”

While new toys are desperately needed there are restrictions on what the hospital can actually use.

Mrs Gregory said: “Everything that is brought in has to be health and safety tested and we can no longer accept cuddly toys, due to the infection control risks they might pose.

“Ideally, we would be looking for things like Duplo which help to keep children busy and distracted.

“Things have to be quite robust as well as they will get a lot of use.”

If you would like to donate toys to the department contact Suzanne Gregory on 01473 702041. If you would like to donate money for the purchase of new toys send a cheque made payable to 'The paediatric resus fund' and send them to Suzanne Gregory, Accident and Emergency Department, Ipswich Hospital, Heath Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 5PD.

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