Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Rocking Chair…


For all the world it was an idyllic scene. The mother, in a rocking chair, slowly rocking her 9 month old baby. Cooing to him and singing him lullabies, surrounded by the trappings of the post-Christmas season; Christmas PJ’s, ‘cuddlies’ and toys.

And I sat on the floor, invited there by Parents (as I have been invited to share their story) and marvelled at the scene of the unspeakable love and bond between mother and child.

But, I’m afraid, this was no ordinary room. It was a room in a hospice, and this little baby was severely ill. I had seen him in another place a number of times and, at the parent’s request, had come to see him here as well. I’d been asked to pray for him because now he was close to the end of his life.

As I sat there, it was almost as if I was looking down on this scene from above, and it dawned on me that it was a huge privilege to be invited into this room by the family. To share, in some small measure, something of the journey of this family is an honour that I won’t take for granted. But then I guess that is “chaplaincy” – the invitation into people’s lives in times of crisis.

Then Mom said: “Do you want a cuddle with him?” So it was my turn to sit in the rocking chair, and in amidst all the wires and tubes, to have him stare into my eyes and me look back – wishing things could be different.

We prayed for this little one, and cried, and hugged. And afterwards, in the comfort of my own home that evening, they phoned to say that the baby had passed away.

I don’t know why these things happen. I have no fancy words or explanations. All I know is that being in that place, alongside this family, was where I belonged for a time. Mom and Dad have asked me to take his funeral; and together with them I will do my best to lay him to rest and to honour his contribution to the world. He was loved and, I believe, gave love in return. And now, the rocking chair has stopped rocking; but the picture of love that I saw in that place between mum and baby will stay with me forever.

Dear Jeremy Hunt. Worcestershire Acute is not a “BASKET CASE”.


Dear Jeremy Hunt MP,

I watched you on the TV last night express your concern for Worcestershire Hospital saying that it is “probably the hospital you are most worried about.”

Indeed the recently nationally reported events have been tragic and none more than our hospital staff share in the sadness of these occurrences.

However, we are far from being the “basket case” which the media have painted us out to be, although that is not to deny the serious challenges which face us, and many hospitals in the country at the moment. And if you take time to read social media posts from consultants, medical professionals and experienced nursing and health care staff across England you will see that this is the case.

It is so easy (not to mention lazy journalism) to scapegoat one hospital to deny the reality of the whole situation; and, in fairness, I think that is perhaps what is going on with Worcestershire Acute Trusts media profile at present.

However, I count it a privilege to serve as Lead Chaplain in this Trust and I can’t tell you how amazing and dedicated the staff are in the pursuit of their work. Day in and day out they do amazing things on behalf of the people of Worcestershire, and it would be good if this is recognised too. I know that “hospital does its job” is not front page news, but all this bad news does nothing for staff morale and public confidence in our hospitals – and indeed in the NHS in its entirety.

You are, of course, correct that we are in special measures and await the outcome of a recent CQC inspection. And my hope is that a new leadership team, with our excellent new Chairman and Chief Executive, will bring the improvements which will again restore our reputation to the people of Worcestershire.

But in the meantime, as a resident of this fine county, I can say with certainty that I am happy for myself and my family to be treated on any ward in any of our hospitals and know that they would get kind compassionate and professional care.

Dare I suggest that the real issue here is lack of funding for our hospitals. You will know that at the inception of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital concern was raised by elected representatives that the hospital was too small for its purpose.

Perhaps you might ease our situation by considering how we move on from here in conjunction with the other stakeholders in our health economy.

Indeed, this might ameliorate the current scapegoating of the hospital which I love.

With all good wishes for a Happy New Year.

Rev’d Dr. David Southall
Lead Chaplain- Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust