Over the years I have had the privilege of seeing at first hand the fantastic work done by chaplains of all Christian denominations, and those of other faiths, in the varying parts of the health service. It has always been impressive work. Chaplains serve people of all faiths and of none. They offer care and support to patients, staff and relatives. They are present at times of joy but more usually at times of anxiety, anguish, sorrow, pain and bereavement. They sit quietly with people; they offfer words of consolation; they help with menial but important tasks; they pray with people when asked; they never force anything; they act out of respect and care.
Yesterday I spent time with the the chaplaincy team that serve Mansfield & Ashfield Community Hospitals & John Eastwood Hospice. They have been engaged in pioneering work serving the patients, and reaching out into the community offering spiritual care and support. I heard from staff how much their work is valued by staff and patients alike. I saw them offering support and comfort to both even as they were busy showing me around. The sadness is that under current proposals from Notts Community Health Care 2 chaplains, the Bereavement Support Officer and their admin support will be made redundant. They say cover will be found in other ways but have not indicated in anyway how that might be.
On the other hand at Kings Mill Hospital they are about to open a new Faiths Centre as part of their wonderful new build. Spiritual care here appears to be understood in its fullest terms and being provided. They also have a Bereavement Support Centre.
Spritual care is part of front-line services in health care as it is a key contributor to the total well-being of patients and staff alike.
Just a couple of weeks ago the Department of Health issued this note in their weekly update:-
I hope that in this current situation consultation really means that there is an openness to re-considering the proposal and that fresh thinking will again take
place so that the spiritual care of those for whom the services at Mansfield & Ashfield Community Hospitals, and out into the community are vital, will continue to be adequately met in the future. It is good that provision at the Hospice has been guaranteed. I hope that similar support for the bereaved, those recovering from strokes, orthopaedic ops and asupport out into the community will also be maintained.