Tag Archives: NHS



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April 28, 2016 · 16:28

The Meaning of Life



Charlie Chaplain’s Tales

Not too far from the truth in the semi-privatised present day NHS


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May 4, 2014 · 08:02

Last Rites (article in the Edinburgh Evening News)

HEALTH bosses have been urged to scrap a deal that sees the NHS pay tens of thousands of pounds a year to the Roman Catholic Church.

NHS Lothian has entered into a “service level agreement” with the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh to provide out-of-hours spiritual care, costing £30,000 a year, largely to ensure critically ill Catholics are read their last rites.

The church, which is the only religious organisation with which the health board has a specific agreement, said it was “long-standing practice” that cash was paid to organisations providing services to hospitals.

However, secular campaigners branded the payment “ridiculous” at a time when the NHS is becoming increasingly cash-strapped and said the church should foot the bill.

Gary McLelland, chair of Edinburgh Secular Society, said: “We find it strange that the very well-funded Catholic Church requires the taxpayers of Scotland to top-up its coffers. I would find it strange if the Catholic Church was to leave one of its members lying in hospital without providing a service, because the state refuses to foot the bill.

“We believe that the citizens of Scotland would be concerned to find that tax money is being used to support religious groups in Scotland, and not to heal the sick and educate the next generation of young Scots.”

Tim Maguire, spokesman for Humanist Society Scotland, said his organisation would never charge for chaplaincy services to hospitals.

“The Catholic Church is not poor, they could afford to do this themselves,” he said.

Members of religions, including Catholics, are generally offered support from NHS Lothian’s own non-denominational chaplains.

NHS Lothian has said the current contract, which is subject to review, took three years of negotiations.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh said its £30,000 fee for out-of-hours cover represented only five per cent of the amount the health board spends on spiritual care annually. While the church pockets tens of thousands from the deal, members of the clergy receive an honorarium of about £10 per week for their work.

The spokesman added: “It has been a long-standing practice that expenses have been paid to those who provide services to hospitals, including the Catholic Church.”

Sandy Young, NHS Lothian’s head of service for spiritual care and bereavement, said the health board focussed on meeting the “urgent and essential needs” of patients and their families at all times.

He added: “Over half of the out-of-hours urgent and essential referrals received in the last year were from Roman Catholics, for whom spiritual care often requires the presence of a priest at short notice. A 24/7 on-call system is in place to ensure this requirement is met.

“NHS Lothian is committed to providing this service for patients and their families and works in partnership with the Roman Catholic Church to achieve this. Making sure that appropriate spiritual care is available to patients when required is an important part of the overall care we provide.”


In a recent NHS Lothian report, it was stated that a previous arrangement, in which Roman Catholic chaplains were on the NHS payroll at a cost of £56,000, had been scrapped due to “poor on-call RC service delivery”. However, the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the paper “did not supply any evidence” to support the assertion. The church said the new agreement took three years to set up “because it did”.


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More B***ocks


Charlie Chaplain’s Tales

A new Chaplain is being given the tour of the Hospital. He and the Director of Nursing walk the hallways of the hospital.

Passing one of the rooms he sees a nurse on top of a patient having passionate sex.

“What on earth is this nurse doing?!” He asked. The Nursing Director casually replies “this man has a very rare condition. If he doesn’t ejaculate 6 or more times a day, his testicles fill up with pressure and literally explode.”

The new Chaplain, stunned, but content with the answer continues on with his tour of the hospital.

A few doors down he sees a man bored and sighing trying very “hard” .

“And this man? ” the Chaplain asked.

The Director of Nursing replies “Oh, this man? He has the same condition as the patient with the exploding balls a few doors down.

But he’s not an  NHS patient – he’s with BUPA

Bupa (originally, the British United Provident Association) was established in 1947 when 17 British provident associations joined together to provide healthcare for the general public. The original services offered by Bupa included private medical insurance, and eventually expanded to include privately run Bupa hospitals. Bupa had an initial registration of 38,000 when founded, but currently has over 11 million members worldwide, and is the largest private health insurance provider in the UK

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Filling the Listening Void (from “Life and Work”)

Wednesday July 24

IT IS certainly true that a few years ago, hospital chaplains toured the wards, checking in on people and offering their services to those who would be in for a longer stay. But Hospital Chaplaincy is changing, along with so much of the rest of the healthcare system in the UK.

“Healthcare is changing. The demands on the NHS are changing – incredibly quickly – and we, as a service, need to change along with it.”

The Rev Dr Ewan Kelly is the Programme Director for Healthcare Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care with NHS Education for Scotland, and he is talking about the role in a modern health and social care environment for the healthcare chaplain.

“Healthcare chaplaincy is going through a period of considerable challenge amidst current financial austerity within public sector provision, but such cutbacks serve to sharpen the need for chaplains not only to show that their practice enhances the wellbeing of service users, carers, staff and organisations, but that their contribution is unique and value for the taxpayer’s money.”

It all seems to be a far cry from the traditional view most people have of the hospital chaplain as someone you can ask to see if you or a loved one is admitted to hospital in a crisis.

“Healthcare in general is moving away from focusing mainly on treatment in hospitals and towards care that’s focussed on keeping people well in the community.

“The Church has tremendous links and strengths within the communities we live and work in, and with healthcare provision increasingly moving towards trying to help people stay in their own homes for as long as possible, increased collaborative working between local faith communities and statutory health and social care services offers great potential to enhance the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

“A healthcare chaplain does not have to be an ordained minister.

“They may help people find meaning and purpose when faced with long-term or chronic conditions, as well as helping people come to terms with a sudden or unexpected loss.

“We care not only for patients and their relatives; we also care for the staff that look after them, and that can have real financial cost benefits by helping them cope with stress or stressful situations; helping keep them well at work and thus reduce sickness rates and retention levels.

“I see it as important that we, as a valuable, unique resource are able to help actually shape policy – that we are at the table to help transform health and social care culture to be more person-centred….

“Sometimes, instead of drugs or psychiatric treatment, people just need time and space to talk, to work things through in their own minds. This informs a second national programme of healthcare chaplaincy work – the setting up of Community Chaplaincy Listening Services in GP surgeries. Such services are now present in health boards all over the country – with over 20 surgeries currently involved. It’s not the same as counselling but focuses on patients’ ‘why?’ or spiritual questions, allows people to come to terms with perhaps a bereavement or a diagnosis, or develop the self-esteem to take more control in their own lives and help self-manage their own long term condition(s).”

There’s a big box of tissues on the table in the room by the Chapel in Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline, where I’m speaking to Lynda Wright.

Lynda, a Deacon employed to offer spiritual care by the NHS, is one of the people working within the new vision for the chaplaincy service.

She’s the national co-ordinator and liaison for the Community Listening Service, set up nationally after a very successful pilot study in 2010 and 2011, and now being expanded to cover every health board in Scotland.

“The Community Listening Service is part of the national strategy that recognises that the focus for future health care is changing from hospital based to home or community based.

“Most people will experience their ill-health in their homes rather than hospital and all the health boards are looking at ways of responding to that challenge.

“GPs are aware that a ten minute appointment isn’t really suitable for a patient who could be helped by talking problems through rather than being given medication, or in addition to being given medication. That’s when they can refer the patient on to the Listening Service and know that the person will be given the time and space to sort things out in their heads.

Lynda says that most of her clients have been helped after just one session.

“It’s not counselling,” she says. “We can allow people space to sort out what things are most important and help them see the options available to allow them to move forward.

“We can also ‘social prescribe’. By having a good local knowledge of support groups etc in the area, we are able to help people find others they can share with.”

Lynda sees the role of spiritual care worker as very much in keeping with her work as a Deacon.

“Listening has always been part of my work. I’ve picked up training along the way that has come in useful, like bereavement work, counselling skills. I ran a retreat house in Falkland for 18 years so listening to people talking through their problems is something I have always done.

“The feedback from the initial project was completely positive. Over the year I was involved in helping with the research, I saw 60 patients out of around 250 across Scotland. The responses were excellent – the GPs were in favour; the patients, without exception, said it had been useful.”

Lynda points to the box of tissues.

“That’s one of the most important things in this room,” she says. “Many, if not most, of the people who come to me have a cry at some point; men and women. Sometimes, even when I feel I haven’t really done anything apart from just letting them talk, they are incredibly grateful. They thank me for just listening to them.

“Sometimes, that really is all they need.”

In spite of the changes happening within the healthcare system, there is still room for the work of the hospital chaplain in the more traditional role as well. In a time of crisis, the chaplain has the ability to cut across religious lines, to step up and become someone who can be leaned on and turned to by anyone who needs them.”

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