Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Several painful hiccups and false dawns later, another fresh start. We're beginning to get the hang of things (my eldest son has also started his own backpacker's blog and we're helping each other out with the technicalities).

I intend this blog to combine news items on Trust affairs with some reflective stuff that casts light on what we are actually doing, in a worthwhile, readable mix. I also hope it attracts comment, because that's the whole point of it: dialogue, debate, discussion; sharing ideas, experience, aspirations.

Yesterday I attended my first meeting at a "Chaplaincy Collaborative" (CC), at the invitation of Rev. Susan Hollins, who coordinates CCs in the East of England. Chaplaincy Collaboratives are an initiative aimed at bringing isolated Hospital Chaplains together, to strengthen their effectiveness, and to develop new coalitions of interest with 'the willing' from other disciplines, like medicine, nursing and patient/client groups.

Yesterdays meeting was concerned with devising a way to quantify the effectiveness of hospital chaplains, against the background of financial deficits affecting many NHS Trusts, and the need for 'efficiency savings'.

Why was I invited? Well, the Trust is often invited to such events, and I guess it's partly because we have a prominent web presence, and maybe because we have a longish history of engagement in health issues, and possibly because our 'catholicity' carries an (unclaimed and unmerited) sense of our being somehow representative of UK Buddhism as a whole (though I carefully disavow any such status at the first opportunity to do so).It was an interesting meeting, and we devised an early draft of an 'audit instrument' to capture data from patients on the effect of chaplaincy interventions, through five simple face-to-face questions, administered to ready-for-discharge patients by a neutral volunteer. I think my being a nurse made my presence useful to the group, even though it was my first encounter, as they were all ordained clergy, and somehow "in awe" of clinical staff.

But it is still true (I believe) that clinicians (doctors and nurses) are seen, and see themselves, as more indispensible, more top-of-the-heap, than other cadres in the NHS. Although, increasingly, it is the despised "number-crunchers" and "bean-counters" who call the shots, hence the drive for audits of effectiveness, and maybe a reason for Chaplaincy Collaboratives, a kind of defensive 'circling of the wagons' against imminent attack.

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