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It's good news for hospital chaplain's blog
WE’VE all heard the old adage that bad news travels much further and faster than the good stuff.
Hospital chaplain Rev David Southall readily accepts that people are generally far more likely to recount a bad experience than shout it from the rooftops when something meets or exceeds their expectations.
But, as he made his regular rounds of the wards at Worcestershire Royal Hospital a few short months ago, he was suddenly struck by the number of people with good news and positive thoughts they wanted to share with him.
An idea quickly crystallised and within a matter of days Mr Southall was taking his first steps into the realm of online blogging with his “good news blog”.
Encouraging people to share their experiences, the e-mails and letters soon came flooding in and little more than four months on, at the latest count he has shared more than 50 stories and received more than 65,000 hits on the blog.
“I have been amazed by the interest but I think what I have found is that good news breeds good news,” he said.
“It can snowball and I think that people enjoy sharing that news and seeing it there in writing.”
The blog has already covered a huge variety of topics, from cancer patients praising staff for their support and compassion to votes of thanks from relieved parents who have been through the trials of a difficult birth.
But there are no restrictions as to what Mr Southall wants to celebrate and he stresses that he is equally happy to share “something as routine as coming in for a check-up and finding that nothing is wrong.”
As Mr Southall – who has previously worked on the wards himself as a psychiatric nurse and drugs councillor – points out: “There is no such thing as mundane when it comes to someone’s health.”
He also hopes his blog can act as support and a morale boost to staff who, as he points out, like any other profession are “not mechanical robots but human beings working in a human environment”.
He knows that like anyone else they need to be called to account when things go wrong but also recognises that the nature of the environment they dedicate themselves to every day means that those incidents are, understandably, subject to greater scrutiny and higher stakes than arguably anywhere else.
“When things go wrong it is really hard for staff to see those things on the front pages. No one goes in for something like that to happen,”
he said. “But there is so much good work that goes on, probably 99.9 per cent of things, and when you hear staff getting praise for things they have done and showing compassion that they just consider ordinary I think it is fantastic. That sort of thing probably goes on more than any of us know.”
He values the important role played by a free press (his own blog is independent from the communications department and directors at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust – although they are confirmed fans).
“Part of a chaplain’s job is to share good news and there is no agenda other than sharing those stories,” he said.
Mr Southall is keen to hear from people in Malvern who have had positive experiences at county hospitals.
You can contact his blog at revdavidsouthall.com.
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