Clergy contact changes at BGH cause confusion

A NEW patient management system used by NHS Borders has meant changes to the way clergy find out the names of those parishoners who wish to be visited in hospital, writes Mark Entwistle.

The Rev Alistair Bennett, of Melrose Parish Church, told TheSouthern this week that clergy whose parishioners who end up in hospital and wish to be comforted need to be told who those patients are, as it is an important service for the local community.

“It is still very important that we can continue to visit those people who wish such a visit during their time in hospital,” Rev Bennett said.

“But it seems that changes to the patient management system are making it more difficult for ministers to find out who among their congregations have been admitted to hospital.

“It is something those at the chaplaincy centre at the Borders General Hospital are discussing with NHS Borders.

“As far as I understand it, this was nothing to do with privacy rules, but something that was simply not anticipated when these changes were made.

“The hospital authorities are being very sympathetic over this issue.”

However, Dr Ross Cameron, medical director for NHS Borders, said that, as with all other NHS organisations, his has a duty to protect the confidentiality of patients, including information about their presence in the Borders General Hospital.

“Some patients do not wish their admission to the BGH to be made known to local clergy. NHS Borders does not provide visiting clergy with unedited lists of in-patients admitted to hospital although that information has been available to our spiritual care team,” explained Dr Cameron.

“We recently introduced a new patient management system. This new system allows us to capture and manage information about patients in an enhanced manner to better support patient care.

“As part of this implementation we have changed the way we present information to the spiritual care team to better respect confidentiality and to reflect the express wishes of patients in relation to their desire for a visit from their local clergy.

“Spiritual care is a very important aspect of our patients’ care and patients are reminded in the Coming to Hospital booklet to ask the nurses to arrange a visit.

“We believe this new approach will ensure that those patients who have requested a visit from their spiritual care provider are readily identified to the spiritual care team, and conversely, maintain confidentiality for those who have not.”