PATIENTS in Morpeth are welcoming a new member to their care team – and she comes with a wet nose and very waggy tail.
Coco the cocker spaniel has joined the ranks of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Morpeth hospital sites at Northgate and St George’s Park.
The dog has been trained to sniff out illegal drugs at the trust’s premises, but also serves as a pets for therapy dog, visiting and comforting service users.
The spaniel works with former policeman John Ashworth, who had a 30 year career in the service and worked as a police dog handler for 13 years until his retirement earlier this year.
After joining the health trust, Mr Ashworth and Coco spent two weeks training with Northumbria Police to get to know each other.
Coco has now moved in with his handler, who has three other cocker spaniels – his former police search dog Figo and Jake and Lucy, who take part in agility competitions.
Mr Ashworth said: “Since I began working with Coco we have really got to know each other and through her I have enjoyed meeting some of our trust’s service users and visitors.
“She has also become part of the family with my other dogs and we hope to get out and visit lots more of the trust’s sites in the future.”
Trust Director of Nursing and Operations Gary O’Hare said: “Since Coco began working for the trust she has made a fantastic contribution in ensuring the safety of everyone who receives treatment from the trust or visits one of our sites.
“I would like to take this opportunity in welcoming John to the trust and I am sure this new partnership will continue to be a great success.”