So what was the point?
This isn't a snarl at anyone on the messageboard, but the anguished cry of a nurse who is completely pi**ed off.
There is in each hospital a large body of people who could not otherwise be gainfully employed. These people are called administrators, clerical support staff, clerks etc. They spend their days pushing pieces of paper and wee bits of old rubber bands around their desks.
When they get bored they ring around the wards to see if they can interrupt a nurse who is doing something pointless - say - talking to a patient, reassuring someone who is anxious about some aspect of their care, checking temperatures, blood pressures, IV administration sets, helping a patient with their personal care, cleaning up faeces - the list goes on - to ask why they have not correctly completed form J9875348-95/798347C and forwarded it, in triplicate, to seven other departments.
The administrators would have to stop doing this vital work if they had to devise different admission forms for different departments of the hospital.
One alternative to that would be to engage a firm of consultants at a reasonable cost, £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to carry out an independent review of the pro forma used in the Accident and Emergency department and recommend that the question be omitted from the relevant admission form. The old forms could then be destroyed and new ones printed or a firm of computer consultants could be engaged to write a new programme for the Accident and Emergency department's computer system. The other alternative would be to employ more administrators, clerical support staff, clerks etc. to carry out their duties on a short term basis.
If a patient reporting to the A&E dept. were to collapse with a previously undetected condition, concussion, shock, fractured skull or some such, said patient might not be too impressed that their diagnosis had been made by the clerk, with no medical training, who booked them in and who decided that no further treatment would be required. To continue on, from this more serious than previously noticed condition, to a ward admission, said patient, who is an undisclosed atheist because there is nowhere on the form to record such a fact, might not be too struck, on regaining consciousness, to find a rc priest administering the last rites.
Of course, when the person you escorted to the hospital collapses, you won't mind filling in another form with all the same questions as the first, but including the one about religion because you know that neither you nor the person asking you all these questions again has anything better to do!
That is why hospitals need to know your religion!
You could just grin and bear it and answer the questions politely, because you can rest assured that the person asking them had nothing to do with setting them and has no power to change them. Write to your MP, or the Chief Executive of the Trust, he or she is being paid much more than anyone you will come across in the hospital to deal with precisely this question.
Are you sorry you asked?
Yes, I presume it's a case of 'that's the way we've always done it'? Do you know what they do with the information?Jem wrote:Thank you for your very full and entertaining reply, Squiffy. I'm still not clear about why they ask for your religion in the first place but I understand that it's not worth bothering to try to get it changed.
Taking one health board, Forth Valley, they are registered with the Information Commissioner to record 'Religious or Other Beliefs Of A Similar Nature' of their patients for the purpose of 'Pastoral care', defined as 'The administration of pastoral care by a vicar or minister of religion'. It's interesting that they do not mention the use of these data for Humanist 'chaplains'. In fact, because they do not explicitly mention them, but do mention vicars and ministers of religion, I wonder if they would be breaking data protection laws if they did pass on a patients religion (or otherwise) to a Humanist chaplain!
Having taken my living will form (now called advance decision - available from http://www.dignityindying.org.uk) to my GP to talk it through yesterday he informed me that I do not need to state my Humanism to ensure I am not, as Squiffy says, regaining consciousness to find an rc priest administering the last rites. Death from apoplexy guaranteed!
He told me that (in our Health Board anyway) no religious persons are allowed to a patients bedside unless specifically asked and signed for by the patient. Perhaps other health boards could follow suit?
I thought about it and decided that it can be used for something useful. The more of us who state that we have no religion, the fewer chaplains the health service will be able to justify employing!
I know that here in Norn Iron such a question will remain on the forms for the foreseeable future. As far as I know in the rest of the UK the fair employment legislation only covers race or ethnic origin, but here it also includes protestant or roman catholic. There is probably some poor beggar sitting in a cupboard counting patients to ensure that there is no discrimination on the grounds of religion.
However, my GP practice appears to be a particularly good one and has won awards. As long as they take good care of their patients I don't really care too much about what they choose to believe.
I recall my first ante natal appointment back in 1984 in London, the nurse sat opposite me at a table filling in my details. For religion she put C of E - she didn't even ask me! I corrected her but at that moment I felt very angry on behalf of people of all faiths (apart from C of E of course) as well as those of none.DougS wrote:I agree, Squiffy. People do need to take a stand on these things - make sure they do actually enter 'none' and not just put C of E (in England).
What an arse!Alan C. wrote:Back in January there was a bit of a furore up here. when a doctor was handing out these Parish at war over 'anti-Islam' booklet written by local doctor. He was eventually reinstated after apologizing.
Editorial by Terry Sanderson
Hospital chaplains – MPs push to make them a statutory requirement
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Chaplaincy in the NHS – which is supported by 40 MPs from different religions – has said it will "name and shame" hospital trusts failing to provide chaplains from a required range of religions. The new grouping will attempt to force all NHS hospitals to provide a Catholic chaplain by making it a legal requirement.
The new group was formed with backing from former Conservative leader and Catholic Iain Duncan Smith, and will be chaired by shadow Health Minister, Mike Penning, an Anglican. The group will press for all major religions and denominations to be represented in hospital chaplaincies if they are present in the local population. Mr Penning said such hordes of clerics were necessary because the idea of "multi-faith" chaplains was "unsatisfactory". All these chaplains are to be employed at the NHS Trusts' expense.
Father Peter Scott, a national chaplain liaison officer and chaplain co-ordinator at Westminster Diocese, who pushed for the formation of the parliamentary committee, said: "The aim is to make chaplaincy services a statutory requirement, as it already is in prisons, the armed forces and higher education, but not in hospitals. In the NHS core principles there is nothing specific about the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff."
This latest push follows from the publication of a report from the Theos "Christian think tank" which revealed that hospitals in dire financial straits were cutting chaplaincy services in order to save medical and nursing jobs. Since then, the pressure has been increasing from the churches for this trend to be reversed.
When it was discovered that the Worcester Royal NHS Hospital Trust had cut its chaplaincy service to save money, the churches went into overdrive. Their pressure – as usual – has paid off and the Trust has been forced to announce that chaplaincy provision for its three hospitals will be part of the budget again next year – albeit that this is only a third of the previous complement.
As the churches push to dip into the stretched funds of hospitals around the country, the Bromley Hospitals Trust has announced that it has debts of Â£99 million and will have to lay off hundreds of staff. Drug orders have been slashed. London NHS doctors face a reduction in the supplement they get for living in the capital. The London Evening Standard reports that a superbug vaccine that could save thousands of lives has been shelved because of a funding crisis.
Perhaps the time has come, in the face of the financial crisis within the NHS, for the churches to examine their conscience and ask what moral right they have to demand money from such a service to finance something that should be their own responsibility? Why don't they pay for the chaplains out of their own gigantic resources?
We've said it before, and we stick by it: these chaplains are parasites on a service that is there first and foremost to provide medical treatment and health care. When are we going to see the All Party Parliamentary Group for Making the Church Pay its Share?