Tag Archives: National Health Service

Christmas @ The Royal: AMU, BEECH & MATERNITY

From Worcester News. 30th December 2013

From Worcester News. 30th December 2013

I had great fun putting this article together with my friends and colleagues and want to thank Tarik Al Rasheed from the Worcester News for widening its focus. Here is the full blog which I composed.

OK, let’s face facts. No one really wants to be in Hospital at all, let alone at Christmas. The season seems to speak loudly of fun, and jollity, and the TV wants us to think that everyone is having the most special and enjoyable time of their lives. We all know it’s a fiction, but we still buy into it.

But for many people Christmas will be different this year. They will be spending it in Worcestershire Royal. So is it just another day at the office for the Nurses? Well, let them tell you in their own words. This is nursing; recognising the patients’ needs at whatever time of year, and meeting them with professionalism, compassion and care.”

ALISON DAVIS- MATRON FOR SURGERY

Alison Davis is Matron for Surgery and has been nursing for 30 odd years (although she doesn’t look it!). She reckons she must have worked more than 20 Christmas days in her career and she loves it.
“Of course, most of the patients who can go home are discharged, but for the patients who remain on the wards the staff pull out all the stops and go the extra mile. It’s wonderful to see how the staff are always putting themselves out, making the patients feel as relaxed as possible. This year, of course, we will be putting up our decorations on the Beech Unit and on Christmas Day the patients will have their Christmas Meal with a cracker and lovely Christmassy napkin, and be given a present from us. It really is lovely to see the staff so happy as well.”
Alison and the staff are well aware that Christmas can be a sad time for some. “Invariably on our wards there will be people for whom this Christmas is the first one on their own, having had the sadness of losing their spouse, but the staff do their bit and offer some and love. And we can always stretch to getting those who are well enough to go home for a few hours for the day.”
Matron’s favourite Christmas story is from a few years back, in a different place. “A young boy had been in a Road Traffic Accident. He had been unconscious for a few days and it just so happened that Carol Singers came around the ward; and whilst singing “Away in a Manger” the young boy woke up.”

ANITA CUPPER- MATRON FOR MEDICINE

Anita Cupper is Matron for Medicine. She too has long experience in the NHS and has had worked more than 15 Christmases- and despite being off this year she will come in on Christmas Day and wish all her patients on the Acute Medical Unit (one of the busiest wards at Worcester Royal with 900+ patients per month) a “Merry Christmas”. Again there will be decorations and gifts for patients on a ward which will be fully staffed. Anita, described by her colleagues as a “whirlwind”, said that the ward will be full of happiness and cheer, although is well aware that there will be some people who have no family or visitors. “It is up to us provide that family element which some patients will be lacking,” she says with passion. “After all that is what nursing is all about. If Christmas is about anything it is about believing you can make anything happen!” Senior Sister Ruth Clack overhears us talking and shares her Christmas story. “One Christmas Eve I admitted a patient who came in very poorly. The Medic thought his chances of surviving were slim and I stayed late to transfer him to the Intensive Care Unit. I was delighted to see him back with us three days later and he had three good years more of quality life.” But perhaps most touching, Ruth told me that on the day that he died, “the patient’s wife phoned me to tell me the news and how much I had meant to the family. This was a while ago but it’s funny what you remember.”

PAM JONES- MIDWIFE AND MIDWIFERY MANAGER

The maternity unit at Worcestershire Royal is a special place, and with all the hype of Christmas you would be forgiven for thinking that it was the centre of Christmas in the Hospital. After all we have all seen the TV programmes on Christmas Day from Maternity Wards celebrating Christmas Babies, and the ward at Worcester often has the local radio station phoning up on 25th December asking “if they have enough hay and hot water.”
“But mostly for us it is a normal working day,” says Pam. “We enjoy working at Christmas, and it is a privilege to be involved with bringing new life into the world, but our main aim is to help the women deliver their babies safely, efficiently and in as comfortable a way as possible as with every day. Once the baby is born, the family want to get them home as quickly as possible and we do our very best to facilitate that. We do, of course, recognise it as a special time of year and celebrate it. And this year the Community Champion at ASDA in Worcester has kindly donated some festive baby clothes which we will give to each family, along with a little gift for each baby.”

REV DAVID SOUTHALL- CHAPLAIN

“There is a buzz about the hospital at this time of year, like there is everywhere else, which in some ways makes my job more challenging. So there are times of great sadness, when families need a supportive and sympathetic person to be with them for a spell; and times of great joy which are worth a celebration. The hospital is life writ large, but to be there for people in sorrow or joy is an enormous privilege. I take my hat off to all the staff working over the Christmas period. I can assure you that you will have the same level of professionalism and support as at any other time of the year and staff will continue to go the extra mile. So my thoughts and prayers are for peace this Christmastime wherever people are and whatever the challenges they are facing.”

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Hope in the Face of Adversity: A Christmas Baby

Baby SOPHIA with Mum Alice and Dad Ben (used with permission)

Baby SOPHIA with Mum Alice and Dad Ben (used with permission)

In May I will have been at Worcestershire Royal Hospital as Chaplain for 5 years.

And so every now and then I bump into people who I have met in other circumstances- none more so that this story.

I was minding my own business chatting to a Volunteer in the Main Entrance of the Royal when I noticed a dishevelled man out of the corner of my eye. You kind of get a second sense when you think someone wants to speak with you, and so I asked him if he was OK. His name was Ben, he looked knackered, and he told me why. “My wife Alice is expecting a baby and I have been awake for 36 hours straight.” He said his wife was called Alice, and I wished him good luck and went on my way.

Later that day I was about to go home and I saw him again. This time he still looked knackered but with a dazed air about him; almost floating through the entrance of the hospital (on his way out to have a fag). “How’s it going I asked?” “O Great, she’s had, I ,mean we’ve had, a baby girl.” “Congratulations! Have a cigar!” I said (more a turn of phrase than an anti-health promotion message.”

He told me that their baby was called SOPHIA, and that his partner was called Alice. More than that “Alice would like to see you after what happened before.”

O dear, now the penny dropped. I obviously had some connection to this woman; (not her partner- he was new to me); and so I was wracking my brains.

I went down to post-natal, and when I found ALICE the memories immediately flooded back. Three and a half years ago I had taken the funeral of her son after a pregnancy loss. I remember Alice in particular; vulnerable and still and reserved but full of grief. And I remembered the service, and the blessing I gave to her little boy: “May the Lord bless you…”

And now here she was, and in her arms was a beautiful baby girl. And as Alice saw me her face crinkled into gratitude and relief. “Oh. I’m so glad you’ve come; you’ve really made this time special.”

I was speechless. I’d only just shown my face (and that’s enough to put most people off). I am aware that so often I’m involved in some of the saddest times in peoples lives, and, understandably, they don’t want that bringing back to them by memories evoked by my presence.

But not Alice.

So she passed baby Sophia to me and for a few moments I stood there rocking her and admiring this new life who had emerged into the world. She was beautiful, and fragile, and it felt like I was treading on “Holy Ground”.

And after a moment Alice asked: “Would you say a blessing for Sophia?”

And so, in the same words which were echoed three and a half years ago for her brother for whom time was so short, I prayed for Sophia:

“Sophia, may the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you. The Lord turn his face towards you and give you his peace.”

And now, one final, bold request. “Can I have a photo and share it on my Blog? No worries if not!” “Corse you can Dave. You’ve done so much for you. We’ll never forget what you’ve done for your Son. We owe you such a lot!”

So glad to be there.
So glad to have, for a short while at least, become interweaved with the story of Alice and Ben and Sophia.
So glad to have witnessed a new life start her journey in the world.

Believe me I know that not all stories have happy endings.
I know that many will, this Christmas, face grief which seems insurmountable.
But for now I pass on a story that speaks of HOPE.

And say that, for me at least, my thoughts and prayers will continue to be with this little ball of ‘WISDOM’.

AVON 4: “Patients so well cared for!” An unannounced Visit

Robin Walker on an vist to AVON 4

Robin Walker on an vist to AVON 4

I haven’t blogged for a while because my last post was so emotional that I had to take some time.

And now here we are. In case you haven’t kept up, Avon 4 is in the Aconbury block. In previous posts I have praised Wendy Bull for the way in which she leads this ward. She is fair, firm, enthusiastic and a motivator of staff. She leads by example and is as likely to be found with patients as she is anywhere else.

And it so happened that I bumped into her in the main entrance of Worcestershire Royal the other day. “Make sure on your blog that you give my staff a mention. They are wonderful and hard working even under the pressures they face. They always have time for patients and show real care and compassion.”

Now when Wendy asks (or tells) me to do something I do it (not like I’m scared of her or anything) but just becasue she is a complete star! But you might think “she would say that wouldn’t she”.

But it just so happens that I can back this up. Not by my own words but by the words of Robin Walker MP who visited the Hospital today. He spent some time shadowing me and this time, with no one but us two, we could go where we liked. I suggested that we went to AVON 4– partly because it is in the older part of the hospital and can be forgotten.

We were welcomed by Sister Rachael who, without stage managing or hiding anything, introduced us to some patients. They were pleased to see Robin and, to a patient, all of them said how well cared for they were and how kind the staff were.

Not a set up- they could have said anything.

And later in the day Robin Walker MP Tweeted this, with a picture of him and Rachael.

“Tks to @revdavesouthall for taking me round and being photographer! Great to meet patients so well cared for pic.twitter.com/4cXxfkLg0c “

Now it’s tempting to think that the Nurses had chance to scurry round and do things properly. But they had only 5 minutes notice that we were coming. And what Robin saw, I am proud to say, was a normal ward on a normal day.

It strikes me that this is important. We all know the travesty of the OFSTED reports where schools are given so much notice and put huge preparations into making everything just right. Well that shows what can happen when organisations are on their best behaviour.

Chatting to my Chaplain Colleague Rev Guy Hewlett afterwards, he saw the power in this. As an ex-Custody Suite Seargant for the Police he told me of the Lay Visitors who could visit at any time, day or night, with no notice at all. And that is the spirit in which I took the MP around.

After all, we have nothing to hide. And everything to show. And the openness and transparency of Robin’s visit proved this. Hard working and caring staff doing the work they do day in day out. Outstanding.

And I can tell you this. I would be proud and happy to take Robin or any other visitor to any of our wards at WRH to see the tremendous work that goes on. I have confidence in this place, in my colleagues and their care.

Who knows, perhaps we should think of a team of Lay Visitors who could come in whenever they liked to our Hospitals. Openness and Transparency are our watchwords in the NHS at the moment. Anyone can perform to a test or pre-planned visit. But it won’t tell you as much. And in fact we do have such a team- the relatives of family members who always see what is going on.

So well done AVON 4, Sister Wendy Bull and Rachael on the Team on duty this morning. And thank you Robin Walker for helping me make the point and keeping it real.

“Treat Everyday as a Privilege” TRUE NURSING #6C’s

I think that even after 25 years of nursing if I stop feeling touched by experiences then perhaps I should think of a different career.

I think that even after 25 years of nursing if I stop feeling touched by experiences then perhaps I should think of a different career.

Every now and then a post comes in that makes me STOP!
AND SO I PAUSE TO REFLECT ON THE ENORMITY OF HOW OUR WORK INTERWEAVES WITH REAL THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

None more so than this post, from a nurse who spoke to me a few weeks ago and said “I have something for your blog.” And what a “something”. True nursing I call it. Compassion, Care, Competence, Communication, Commitment and Courage!

I know who wrote this, but she wants to remain anonymous. But this is nursing pure and simple.

I count it a huge privilege to work in a Trust alongside members of staff like this. So read on- I hope it rings bells with you.

“You called me to come. I could see in your eyes that you knew he had already gone. You wanted to stay but I took you away whilst the doctors did what they could. We sat quietly. You held my hand and told me you didn’t feel much like talking.

As we sat in the still silence you did start to talk and your eyes lit up as you told me how you’d met, how initially you had played hard to get and turned away his offers for a dance. ‘He’s too tall for me.’ You told your Father, yet without fail every week at the same time on the same evening he would turn up in his uniform and you continued to pretend to be uninterested. Eventually you caved into his requests for a dance and from then on never left his side….until now.

This illness had divided you both for the first time.

You promised you would visit every day, and so you did, setting off early, catching 3 buses and waiting with apprehension to see what each new day would bring.

He had been so very ill and had started to improve, there was talk of rehab, talk of home- oh to be able to get him home. This thought had meant that you could both face the next day together. It meant there was hope.

But he had gone. You showed no emotion when I took you to see him. How do you say goodbye to your life’s companion of 50 years? You didn’t want to leave him. You cupped his face in your hands, held his head next to yours and kissed his lips as you always had. Your tears ran down his face as you whispered to him ‘you promised you would never leave me’.

I left you alone finding it awkward staying for such a personal time and finding it difficult to imagine how you could possibly be feeling saying goodbye to someone you had shared most of your life with. Every day we work is a privilege and today I shared in a very precious time with you. I felt quite affected by the experience and I think that even after 25 years of nursing if I stop feeling touched by experiences then perhaps I should think of a different career. We often get so wrapped up in ‘pressure’ and tasks that we lose sight of the wider picture. We all have the opportunity to make a difference and to feel that each day is a privilege.”

DON’T KILL THE GOOSE WHO LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS! Praise for A&E

Don't kick the NHS to death

Don’t kick the NHS to death

Is it just me or does the NHS still keep coming in for a kicking.
No wonder there are so many folkloric tales of not knowing what we have got until it’s gone.
Are we in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs- or at least beating it to death?

Lots of the posts that people send me say how their lives have been changed because of the treatment they have had.
So think of our country with the NHS for a moment.
Where do you go when something goes wrong?
What do you do when some part of your body or another fails?
How do we function in an emergency?

Of course, that is not to say that there is no critique necessary for organisations – including the NHS. But its always about balance.
And the truth is that to the individuals who are treated, whose lives are made better – or even saved – the Health Service is important.

A short email from Mr. Sherwood puts this in perspective as he writes:

“Dear Dr Southall,

I had to attend Worcester A & E on Friday evening, at about midnight and wanted to offer my thanks to all the staff you have at this site. I have not had a great deal of experience with hospitals thankfully and the treatment I received right from the paramedic turning up at my friends house through to the doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel at A & E was first rate.

It was a scary escapade and at all times I was well looked after and kept in the loop on my progress. I would appreciate if you could pass my thanks on to them and also to pass this on to Harry Turner, who I understand is your chairman at the moment.

Kind regards

Richard Sherwood”

A first rate service in a scary situation. I don’t think you can ask for more that that.

So to all involved, I echo Mr. Sherwood’s words: THANK YOU.

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY IT?? DON’T BELIEVE THE HEADLINES!!!

Should Read: "Superb Treatment at Worcestershire Royal Hospital!!" But rarely does!

Should Read: “Superb Treatment at Worcestershire Royal Hospital!!” But rarely does!

All Doom and Gloom in the NHS?
Concerned about all the headlines in the paper and worried about the way in which you would be treated if you ever had an emergency?

WELL. MARTIN PURSER WAS SO PROUD OF HIS TREATMENT BY THE NHS THAT HE POSTED THIS ON HIS FACEBOOK SITE

And then one of his friends told him to post it to the Chaplain’s Blog. So here it is! And I am totally confident that it is not a one off!

“Last Thursday evening I went to bed early because I had an early start the next day. I started earlier than I intended.

I woke up at a little before midnight with a pain in my upper left chest. It felt like a bruise or a muscle strain. It wasn’t indigestion and I couldn’t rub it to ease it. I’ve been taking meds for high blood pressure for years and so have thought about the way to react to a heart attack. I reckoned it was time to act, took an aspirin and dialled 999.

I was answered immediately and started answering questions. Is the patient breathing? Yes, I hoped I was. Then the pain went away. I tried to stop the process but the call handler insisted that we had started so we should finish. Better to have a false alarm than to miss a real one. Thank you call-handler. Absolutely right.

I went downstairs, unlocked the door and turned on the outside lights and within two or three minutes a paramedic appeared. He went straight into his routine of aspirin, ecg, nitroglycerine, blood pressure and lots of questions. Ecg was normal so was blood pressure but answers to the questions left him pretty sure that I had managed a small heart attack. He recommended that I went into hospital to have a blood test to complete the diagnosis. No Monday wouldn’t do. It should be now. Ok let’s do it.

He called for an ambulance and started completing the papers. Then he dived for the ecg. He had heard something change. He knew what was happening before I felt it. I went straight into another full blown heart attack. He handled things brilliantly. Try not to have a heart attack. But if you must have one, make sure you have a paramedic on the spot to manage it for you. Meds, pain killers, ambulance priorities, ecg. He juggled the lot confidently and professionally. And his confidence helped mine. Thank you paramedic. A really great job.
Jenny was far more worried than I but she got an overnight bag and some washing kit ready for me so that when the ambulance crew arrived (pretty soon), I was ready for a few days hols at the Royal Worcester. Good thing the ambulance crew were big lads. They carried me (14 stone -ish) down the steps from the front door to the road. The journey to the hospital wasn’t comfortable but it was quick. Once again, calm professionalism was their trademark. Thank you ambulance crew. I really benefitted not just from what you did but the way you did it.

At the hospital, the crew by-passed normal A&E and wheeled me straight into the cardiac cath lab. Two nurses were there to meet me and started the preparation for the next stage. The team assembled, I gave my informed consent for the procedure to take place and we were away. I’m not sure how big the team around me actually was. There was the consultant, the technician operating the real-time X ray camera, a physiologist and at least two nurses. I was given a local anaesthic and a catheter went up my arm. After a short while the consultant announced that he had located the blocked artery that was causing the problem. Shortly after that, he guided a tiny balloon up through the catheter and inflated it to clear the blockage. The pain and discomfort in my chest cleared instantly, miraculously. Of course I had chosen to have my blockage on an awkward, sharp bend and the next step of positioning a stent, a tiny metallic scaffolding, on the inside of the artery, took some time to achieve. But it was done and some time after 4 am, Jenny was invited to come and see that I was still in one piece. Thank you cath lab team. The technology that you had at your disposal and the skill, knowledge and compassion with which you deployed were all of the highest order.

And so I was wheeled up to the ward, wired into a monitor and recovery began. Jenny headed home, I hoped she was going to get some rest after a long, boring and, for her, worrying, night. For the rest of Friday I stayed in bed, dozed and made pretty patterns on the monitoring screen, I still had a little discomfort in my chest but only just enough to remind me of why I was there. By Saturday even that was gone. On Sunday morning I was disconnected from the monitor and was able to go and shower, shampoo, shave, etc. Luxury. On Monday I came home. The ward where I was cared for was a model of how things should be done. It was clean, uncluttered and calm. The staff, from the charge nurses to the cleaners made their patients feel comfortable and cared for. Needs were anticipated and met quickly, questions answered carefully and thoughtfully. It was proper nursing. Thank you, all of you.

There has been so much bad press about the NHS recently that I thought I would try to write about my very good and very positive experiences in a situation which, not that many years ago could have had a very different outcome. From beginning to end I met and benefitted from a succession of very good, very well trained, compassionate, highly motivated, well equipped people. And they have given me back my life.Meanwhile my friends have been great. I have had enough cards and phone calls to make it feel as if Christmas and several birthdays had all happened at once. Visits from the hospital chaplaincy were, simultaneously, an offering of and an answer to prayer. I have never been so concious of having been surrounded by loving support. Thank you all.”

David Savaged by a Collie: Halloween Weekend Horror!

Teeth bared and ready to bite!

Teeth bared and ready to bite!

I left the house at 7:40am on Sunday morning. No time to be up, especially on my 23rd Wedding Anniversary. The streets were quiet, it was a bright, crisp autumnal morning and I was heading to BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester for a radio interview about the Chaplain’s Blog. A chance to plug the blog and celebrate the fact that it has had over 100,000 views.

I arrived at the car park and met Radio Presenter and all round good egg Malcolm “Boing Boing” Boyden who took me into the building. All was going well- or so I thought. What could go wrong?

I was on the Sunday Show with Michael Collie and the interview started OK, just catching up on the news of the blog and saying how well the blog was doing.

But then the Collie turned…

“You are being a free PR machine for the Hospital. Shouldn’t you as a Chaplain be standing in the middle of this not just plugging one side of the story?”

It is, of course, a good point. And we batted ideas about for another couple of minutes. A bit like a boxing match with some body blows to me. I came back with a left hook and a jab. And it was quite exhilarating!

I left the studio and after the next song, whilst listening in the car, Michael read out two or three entries from my blog and said “Do you think I was too hard on him?”

You can listen to the whole interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jm9gt just slide the tab to 1 hour and 16 minutes.

Now I am being unfair to Michael. He is a nice man, a great radio presenter, and a does a great show. And the point of this post is not to criticise him or the media. Far from it!

The point is to show up the fact that:

YOU CAN’T BELIEVE ALL THE HEADLINES YOU READ!!!

Even those on my blog!

If I had made the title of this post “David on Michael Collie Radio Show” then you might not have read this far! We seem to be attracted to some types of headlines and not to others.

I think there is a better way. I really do believe in the power of Good News. I think that every glimmer of light given off by it can change the world. I think there is a need for a culture of good news in the NHS, and in the country.

So if you feel tricked, or even sad, that this wasn’t a story of me being mauled by a ferocious hound, then there might be a lesson to learn.

And if you were concerned that I have been hurt…well thank you.

Let’s change the world one small act of love, one good deed, or one piece of good news at a time – to paraphrase Mother Theresa.

Oh and finally, THANK YOU MICHAEL COLLIE AND PRODUCER LIZZIE LANE, for continuing to plug the blog. I always appreciate my time with you!