DOCTORS and nurses are tackling stress by learning a new skill — the ukulele.

After welcoming a Bolton ukelele group to play for dementia patients, hospital staff decided to pick up the instrument themselves.

Band Ukes Like Us agreed to come back to their fans at the hospital, now teaching health care professionals the essential chords every week.

Kerry Lyons, a dementia specialist nurse, helped to organise the lessons: "I asked the band to come and play to our dementia patients. It went down a storm. I think, as staff, we realised it was incredibly good fun and we all loved it.

"We thought we could set up our own group of players, but we knew we needed support to do that and to keep it at a low cost. There is a wellbeing element of playing instrument, it's a stress reliever, and we will be able to take it back to the patients."

With help from Ukes Like Us leader Cath Morgan, the staff started their beginner group — the Bolton Hospital Strummers. Doctors, nurses, administration staff, student nurses, even directors, all came forward to join the new band.

Among the new ukulele players is patient experience officer Carolyn Locke, she said: "The lessons are fabulous. I love listening to music but I had never learned an instrument before.

"It's great how quickly we have learned the basic chords that you need to know. It makes you feel like you are accomplishing something when you think you have got too old to try something new."

Ms Locke added: "I would love to sit next to one of our dementia patients who might be feeling sad and make that connection by playing them the ukulele."

The generous teachers from Ukes Like Us are donating the £3 class fee, paid for by staff, to the British Lung Foundation. Instruments have been loaned by local schools.

Ms Lyons said: "They have been really kind to agree to come and support us, I think they are enjoying it as much as we are. It's a win win for everybody!"