The Government’s reforms to the NHS? A car crash in slow motion playing out before our very eyes. Stephen Wright

by Julia Evans on January 6, 2012

We’re spending millions, billions, on changes for which there was no electoral mandate, for which there is no need, based on fundamentally flawed thinking that competition, not co-operation delivers the best results, and skewed towards the business rather than the caring ethic. Other than that, I think they are a great idea.

Quoted from: Back page interview: Stephen Wright, director of Sacred Space and professor of nursing: ‘NHS reforms? A car crash in slow motion’: Professor Wright was talking to Terence Handley MacMath: Church Times, 6th January 2012: issue number 7764: and available here.

 

Reason for my selection of this quote:

i)  It puts to question the whole basis of this Government’s and the last Government’s actions within health care.

ii)  The Government’s actions over the last 10 or more years have been driven by two axioms: a) it is possible to protect the population from health practitioners, such as Dr Shipman, who want to harm or kill those in their care. b)  it is possible to camouflage the Government’s cost-cutting (The big secret is that the Government cannot afford health care to be free and they are tying themselves in knots, as it is forbidden to state this.) in the name of equality, fairness, protection, in fact anything which disguises the amount of money being withdrawn from patient care.

iii)  He also mentions: ‘seductions of hierarchies of power and technical skills’, ‘Clever, powerful, technical tasks are often called “higher order”’ [than basic caring skills], ‘We’ve perverted the core values of nursing.’ [in favour of providing Lord Layard’s and the Government’s economic happiness or wellbeing.]  and ‘the malaise was or is rooted in disconnection, loss of meaning, and purpose’.

Food for thought…..

There follows A) Further extracts from this article and B) a fuller description of Stephen Wright.

 

A)  Further extracts:

 

I’m a multi-tasker when it comes to earning a living. I’m a journalist and editorial adviser for Nursing Standard, a consultant to various health-care organisations on staff development, spirituality, and health matters, an author, sometime poet and composer of hymns and chants, active in my role as Hon. Fellow of the university, and spiritual director at the Sacred Space Foundation.

 

Nursing and faith are deeply bound together. Modern nursing, after all, was founded in the Christian ethos, action, and mysticism of Florence Nightingale.

 

I’m informed by Jesus’s teaching on the nature of healing and wholeness, and, in these times where nurses are accused of being uncaring, by the powerful image of the towel and the bowl at the Last Supper. …

 

Clever, powerful, technical tasks are often called “higher order”, and we call washing an older person, or taking them to the toilet “basic nursing” – something anyone can do. But making a person feel comfortable and good about themselves is the highest thing you can do for them.

 

We’ve perverted the core values of nursing. Unless nurses can grasp that basic principle, we’ll carry on ignoring old people, while we help young men take their drugs and get back to work.

 

The notion of the highest being the lowest – that attending to humble, not to say dirty work is, in fact, the highest order of values and practice – is deeply relevant in these times when the seductions of hierarchies of power and technical skills have lured so many nurses away from the essentials of caring.

 

The Government’s reforms to the NHS? A car crash in slow motion playing out before our very eyes. We’re spending millions, billions, on changes for which there was no electoral mandate, for which there is no need, based on fundamentally flawed thinking that competition,not co-operation, delivers the best results, and skewed towards the business rather than the caring ethic. Other than that, I think they are a great idea.

 

 

The disparaging of vocation in favour of a profession – making it thus a job like any other – is one of the great cul-de-sacs of modern nursing.  In an effort to break free of the exploitation that the idea of vocation brought in its wake, we also lost the value. I see vocation now being revisited in nursing – for some this was never lost – and it’s curious that it has come along with a burgeoning interest in spiritual care.

 

Nurses and other health practitioners have always given spiritual care, but it hasn’t been recognised as such, and there’s still great ignorance and fear around spirituality and its relevance to health care.

 

Now, science is a driver, demonstrating that there is indeed a strong link between spirituality, health, and well-being. And not just the health of body and mind: of cultures, too:  the summer riots, to me, were a sign of a deep spiritual crisis. The focus was on poverty, or criminality, or whatever, but the malaise was or is rooted in disconnection, loss of meaning, and purpose – the very stuff of spirituality.

 

I direct Sacred Space, a charity (first called the Didsbury Trust, then renamed the Sacred Space Foundation.) set up 25 years ago to promote the healing arts, perceived as being lost in increasingly technological health care. We still offer courses in therapeutic touch, and have trained thousands of health-care professionals.

Trust in God, the light in the eyes of my grandchildren, and, as I write, the protesters on the steps of St Paul’s – they all give me hope for the future.

 

 

B)  More background information on Stephen Wright follows and is also available here.

 

 

Quote:

Rev’d Professor Stephen G. Wright MSc RN RCNT RNT DipN DANS RPTT FRCN MBE is chairman and co-founder of the Foundation and an active participant in its work. He is the founding editor of the journal “Spirituality and Health International”, and is associate professor with the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of Cumbria, Carlisle and a Trustee of the Penny Brohn Cancer Care, and patron of the Manchester Area Bereavement Forum. He is an award-winning columnist for Nursing Standard and contributes regularly to other professional journals.

Stephen has a long history of leadership in nursing in the NHS and contributed to changes in clinical nursing and health care policy at national and international levels. His life took an about turn in the late 1980’s when he began exploring spirituality, influenced by a number of personal experiences and rooted in his work with people who were ill and suffering, and the struggles of those who care for them. His background led him to work in spiritual support of health care professionals but as the years went by he became more involved in helping people from all walks of life. He has written and published many scholarly papers, research reports, chapters, books (including two books exploring the nature of healing relationships – “Therapeutic Touch” and “Sacred Space – right relationship and spirituality in health care” with Jean Sayre-Adams), distance learning programmes and made numerous TV and radio appearances. His most recent books include the critically acclaimed “Reflections on spirituality and health”, and a general spiritual awakening guide called “Coming Home” due out in November 2007.  He works with a variety of organisations developing practices in spiritual care, conflict resolution and staff support, and with individuals seeking healing and spiritual direction. Like Jean he is a registered practitioner of TT. He is an ordained interfaith minister and spiritual counsellor and brings inclusiveness, a rich experience of many faiths and a loving approach to his work. He and Jean bring a wealth of wisdom and skill to the work of the Foundation and provide most of the support to those in retreat.