Paul Harding: Hospital radio is good for you 

Torbay Weekly editor Jim Parker and Paul Harding at Torbay Hospital Radio

Listen to Torbay Weekly editor Jim Parker and Paul Harding on the Torbay Hospital Radio podcast at https://torbayhospitalradio.com/torbay-hospital-radio-podcast/ - Credit: Torbay Hospital Radio

Paul Harding from Torbay Hospital radio:

It’s true, a recent survey based on research conducted by The Hospital Broadcasting Association said so.

At the Reynolds Studios we are trying to put more content out there for the patients and staff at Torbay Hospital and anybody who wants to listen via the website or a smart speaker.

Well that’s good, I can hear you saying, but it is not without its challenges.

In 2019, the company who provided the bedside service at the hospital went into administration and the free services that could be tuned into by using bedside units effectively were turned off. 

Now we all know that a stay in a hospital is never something we look forward to and those who have experienced such a stay will have spent time listening to the radio, nowadays it is not as easy as it once was.

The NHS trust, of course, has had a lot on and plans to improve the service were put on hold as the coronavirus took hold and changed or our lives.

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That left patients trying to find entertainment via phones and tablets, which in truth does not suit everyone. 

As a volunteer-led charity, we broadcast 24 hours a day with a lot of that content being produced live.

So it’s good for you, what else?

Well, participants in the research recognised the positive impact of hospital radio on reducing boredom, loneliness and anxiousness.

It’s like having a virtual friend that is speaking directly to you, listeners tend to think it is relevant to them.

Pre-pandemic, volunteers would visit the wards asking for requests and this is something we hope to get back to again soon.

See a patient and within a couple of hours they could hear their request live on air - yes, it’s possible to speak direct to that person. And remember, not everyone gets visitors, so one of our volunteers  turning up at a bedside can be a real high spot.

Without the bedside units at the beginning of October 2021, we applied for an FM licence and we are awaiting a decision from Ofcom.

An antenna location has been agreed upon by the hospital. This would serve the hospital site and we hope to provide credit card-size FM radios to any patient that needs one, so they can listen live.

For now, we just wait fingers crossed that Ofcom will share the mantra that hospital radio is good for you.

In the meantime, if you are coming to hospital or have a relative or loved one in one of the wards, you can still have a request or dedication played live on air.

Just email the studio at studio@torbayhospitalradio.com, or text requests to 07923 865 012. We are also on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp or you can even ask Alexa.

You can check out the schedule by visiting our website. There are live shows most afternoons and evenings playing a wide variety of music. You can also connect to our podcast site for interviews and entertainment if that takes your fancy.

The local business community has been fantastic in their support, sponsoring shows and providing prizes for our forthcoming Christmas draw and we have once again been approved for Co-Op fundraising. This started on October 24, so if you shop or know anyone who shops at the Co-Op and has a Co-Op members' card, please ask them to set the chosen charity to Torbay Hospital Radio.

If you have ever thought about becoming a radio presenter, despite our growing roster, please give us a shout. That’s how Ken Bruce started, so you never know - it could lead to a career.

Anyway that’s enough drum banging, just remember that if you are unfortunate enough to be in hospital that we are there for you and it’s good for you and that’s official.