Tag Archives: worcestershire acute

A Promise is a Promise

wedding rings

One Thursday 3rd November I celebrated my Silver Wedding Anniversary and consider myself lucky to be someone who has found his soul mate. So my mind went back to the promises we had made on that day which, in my own imperfect and flawed ways, I have kept. But my mind also went back to a few days before my anniversary, when I was called out to Critical Care. Here was another couple who had been together 25 years – first meeting whilst working for the Government under the Official Secrets Act – both with risky jobs. But now his wife was critically ill and about to die. When I met Ron [not his real name] he hugged me and wept profusely on my shoulder. “I love her so much!” he said. “We’ve been through so much together; I don’t know how I will live without her.” He told me about their life together; their love; and his heartbreak now- and then he asked me to do something: “Will you baptise me?” he asked. Ron explained that he had always promised his wife that he would get baptised but had put it off and off. He believed but there had always been something more pressing which prevented him from doing it. “Please will you baptise me in the presence of my wife while she is still alive.” So in a congregation of four, with the nurse from the Unit joining us at Ron’s request because she had been so kind, I baptised this man, on his profession of faith, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And then we prayed that God might welcome his wife as she embarked on the next stage of her journey. “See, I’ve kept my promise to you Darling. I’ve been baptised and you’ve been part of it.And with that, she slipped away. Heartbroken would be an understatement to describe Ron’s emotions, but he took some comfort that he had fulfilled the vow which he made to his wife in her lifetime and had kept his promise ‘til death did them part.

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A Woman’s Courage: Patient’s Teach Lessons about the 6C’s Too!

Courage comes in many guises

Courage comes in many guises


Courage comes in many guises. Immediately one thinks of the courage of our armed services in the theatre of battle. Or indeed the courage of those who face victimisation or oppression because of what they believe. In fact, in nursing at the moment, COURAGE is one of the 6C’s which combine to make outstanding care. But it’s easy to miss the attributes and virtues that relatives bring into our hospitals and which are inspirational.

Recently,I have seen COURAGE face to face in my Hospital.

So I was called to a ward and walked into the dimly lit side room and in the gloom made out two figures. A poorly and frail man in the hospital bed, and a woman sitting at his side holding his hand. She was his wife of 40 years, had been his carer for the last decade due to a stroke; and now, when his time was drawing near to leave this earth, was there at his side.

For hours on end, day after day, she would sit with him. When he slept, she rested. When he woke, she reassured him- bringing comfort and peace that no one else could.

And as we chatted, she told me about their life together: of the dogs and holidays; the good times and the bad; and all of it was infused with pragmatism and love. I visited that room a number of times; each time she was there doing what she could, not because it was expected, but because it was the right thing for them.

Now to have an illness yourself is often bearable. But to watch someone you love and are linked to go through something is, well at times, agonising. I did my best for this lady and man. I made her cups of tea; purloined some biscuits; gave her time to tell her story. But I couldn’t walk her journey; merely tread a few steps with her along the way.
She was, I believe, with him when he passed away; but if not- then he still would have known of the love which surrounded him.

We can learn a lot from books; a lot from colleagues; a lot from the internet.
But for me, if I want to know what courage is, I need look no further than this woman.

Now that’s courage.

I Just Can’t Imagine It…On the Loss of a Baby

No footprint is to small to leave its impact on the world

No footprint is to small to leave its impact on the world

I JUST CAN’T IMAGINE IT…I’VE TRIED BUT I CAN’T!

I have three teenage children and life is often chaotic, but I wouldn’t be without them – even on the worst of days. And whilst, like many of us, we have had our fair share of tragedy, we are all still here.

But really I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for the mother, carrying her baby for so long, to lose this little one. And what it must be like for dad, or grandparents, or family and friends.

To be confronted with the loss of a fragile little life seems cruel; no, it is cruel. And as much as I try, I can’t put myself in that place.

But I can imagine the treatment I would want from the health professionals around me in a situation like this. I want medical competence, of course. But I want understanding and compassion and sensitivity and care.

This is a big ask anywhere. Who is up to such a task?

Well, I received a most moving letter from someone whose daughter had just lost a baby and was care for on Lavender Unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Did they receive such treatment? READ ON:

“I am writing to you as I note you wish to hear of the wonderful work done at the hospital.

My daughter was cared for over six days whilst she sadly suffered a late miscarriage on Lavender Ward recently.

Every single member of staff we encountered was outstanding in their dedication to their very difficult work. Not only do such circumstances demand the highest level of medical care, but also a clear understand of very complex emotions.

Firstly, the cleaners. They were just so lovely as they unobtrusively appeared and kept [N’s] room beautiful- their level of attention to detail and kindness was wonderful.
Then the Health Care Assistants- so discreet and careful as they made sure my daughter was comfortable and was eating enough to keep her energy up.

And the doctors and consultants, of whom there were many, and yet the consistency of approach and continuity of care was outstanding. Their skills and compassion created an atmosphere of confidence and most certainly diminished my daughter’s most extreme fears.

And, of course, the nurses. I lost count of how often I saw them work beyond their designated shift times to ensure [N’s] wellbeing. Their clear knowledge and understanding of her circumstances, and their swift action at the most difficult times exemplified the very best of human endeavour.

Not only that, but everyone working on the ward showed such care and concern for me and for my daughter’s partner.

Since her discharge, I would also like to pay tribute to the Bereavement Services from the Hospital who visited [N] and her partner at home. Their visit coincided with a very hard period for her – one of those days when it is easy to be overwhelmed by sadness and loss. The visit visibly lifted both of them, allowing them to express their deepest thoughts and to receive exactly the right comfort to sustain them as they adjust to their lives.

I have written to the ward, but saw your request on the website. It’s so important, especially in our negative media-led times not to overlook the everyday work of the highest levels of professionalism which goes on in our Hospitals.”

[Name and Address Supplied]

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.”

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!