Christmas is coming early to children in UK hospitals with the help of a programme to beam in Santa from the North Pole.

Young patients at the Royal London Hospital received a virtual visit from Father Christmas, as one of ten hospitals being visited this week as part of Cisco’s Connected Santa programme.

The company is using its Telepresence videoconferencing system and Jabber technology to allow children in the hospitals to speak directly to Santa.

At the Royal London, part of Barts Health NHS Trust, the children’s hospital healing space was transformed into a winter wonderland, with a floor-to-ceiling TV in place for the children to speak with Santa.

Santa’s elves were also on hand at the hospital to share gifts with the children.

Tara Shea, play team leader at Barts Health NHS Trust, said being in hospital at this time of year means that children “miss out on some of the magic of Christmas, and that includes visiting Santa”.

Shea said the Connected Santa programme ensures that families’ Christmas traditions can continue, “and our young patients will be assured that Santa’s reindeer know exactly how to get to them on Christmas Eve”.

“It put a smile on all of our faces and helped to provide an enjoyable experience for children and their family, at what can be a very difficult time.”

Phil Smith, chief executive of Cisco UK and Ireland, said: “The bravery of the children we meet, and those who look after them, is incredibly overwhelming.

“We’re honoured to be able to utilise the power of our technology to spread Christmas cheer to patients and their families at a time when they may not otherwise be able to fully enjoy the season.”

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales, Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Our Lady’s Children Hospital in Dublin were among the other hospitals that the Connecting Santa programme visited this week.