SCHEME launched by a nurse and Lancashire law firm to get iPads into hospital wards in Oldham is being backed by a string of celebrities including actresses and TV hosts.

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Hollyoaks actor Amanda Clapham were keen to give their backing on social media to the scheme - which has already helped dozens of patients in the Royal Oldham hospital keep in touch with relatives.

Casualty star Amanda Mealing - who plays fictional consultant Connie Beauchamp - has also recorded a heartfelt video backing the campaign.

The news comes as Oldham introduces special measures to try and stop the surge in Covid -19 infections after a spike in cases in the town.

Leona Harris started the #staytogether campaign after witnessing distressing scenes in hospital isolation wards where patients are cut off from friends and family.

She has witnessed the heartache first hand as patients across hospital wards have been unable to speak with family and tragically some have died without any contact.

She wanted to use technology to get sick Oldham patients back in touch with relatives and came up with the idea of buying iPads.

Leona joined forces with Manchester based law firm Simpson Millar solicitors and raised over £70, 000 to get iPads onto hospital wards across South Lancashire and now wants to raise a further £50,000.

Staff from the Royal Oldham hospital heard about the initiative on social media and and got in touch with the law firm to get hold of iPads to help sick patients affected by ongoing covid restrictions across the hospital.

But nurses are still desperate to get hold of more iPads for wards so that they are able to help patients in case of any further spike in covid infection cases.

Council bosses have introduced extra restrictions asking residents not to visiting friends houses and to keep two meters apart outside.

And anyone shielding has been asked to continue until next month and care homes will now not relax restrictions.

Oldham has been hit especially hard with Covid cases and remains at risk of further lockdowns like Leicester if cases don't improve.

Chief medical officer Chris Witty warned the virus was still here. He said in an online conference: "Covid -19 is a very long way from finished and eradication is technically impossible for this disease."

Last night Leona Harris - who works at Bury's Fairfield hospital - said: "I am very humbled to be involved with this campaign and very gratefully for all the support from the celebrities, the public and other nurses and healthcare staff. If we work together we can get through this.

"I am just one of many health professionals on the frontline but hopefully these will be a massive help to the people of Oldham.

"I have been inundated with requests for tablets and iPads from nurses on social media. There is still a massive need for these iPads and tablets now and in the future across different wards. They will be a huge help going forward as isolation on certain wards remain in place.

"I have seen first hand the effect of patients having no contact with their families. Due to infection control these are very restricted areas and the last thing patients think of when they come in to hospital very poorly is to bring iPads or tablets with them and many don't have them anyway.

"So I wanted to find a way to get them in contact fast and video calls was the answer. It's like a virtual hug for the patient and the family and gives them a real boost. I am dealing with nurses on wards direct to get tablets where they are needed the most.

"We are looking to send out as many as we can to whoever needs them. Nurses have been messaging me on Facebook all the time and we want to keep sending more iPads in case of any new cases.

"If we can boost patients morale it can aid their recovery and seeing family and friends even if it is just on screen really helps their mental health. The more we raise the more iPads we can buy going forward which is why I am now looking for more money as many more hospitals are looking for help."

The scheme has proved so successful that iPads have already helped thousands of patients to stay in touch with loved ones while in isolation at the Royal Oldham hospital and hospitals across Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the UK.

Now she is hoping to raise more money to buy and send more iPads to where they are needed most.

As well as hospitals, Leona and Simpson Millar also plan to branch out and donate tablets to hospices if they have any spare tablets after they reach a further £50, 000 fundraising target online.

Nick Harris partner at Simpson Millar Solicitors whose nurse wife Leona is fronting the campaign said: "The more funds we a raise the more patients and their families that we can help which can only be a good thing. If hospitals want an iPad or tablet just contact the Justgiving site or my wife Leona."

To make a donation to the #staytogether campaign go to