AGM 2001

Held at Stirling Royal Infirmary, 10 October 2002



Rev Derek Brown (Chaplain at Raigmore and the Highland Hospice, Inverness) was elected President of SACH. 

Sue Duncan (Chaplain at Loanhead) and Rev Stuart Macdonald (Chaplain at Gartnavel General Hospital and the Western Infirmary, in Glasgow) were elected as committee members.

Andrew Moore (Policy Development Officer at the Healthcare Chaplaincy Training and Development Unit) was elected as Membership Secretary.

Rev Anne Harper was thanked as she retired as President, as were Fr Stephen Dunn and Rev Ian MacDonald (committee members)

President's Report 2002

Anne HarperRev Anne Harper

Year by year there is an increasing number of issues and meetings in which the Association is participating. This is indicative of a growing awareness of the relevance of input from chaplaincy to healthcare issues . It is to be hoped that increased awareness will lead to increased funding but that is something for the future. I myself have represented SACH at the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland's Consultation on the retention of organs and I know that others have attended as representatives from their own Trusts. The aim being to produce standards for Post Mortems and Organ Retention and to promote public confidence within Scotland about what is happening within the NHS. Draft standards on Post Mortem and Organ Retention had already been produced for discussion at various consultations. The Project Group seemed very open to suggested amendments and were not treating the consultation process as simply a rubber-stamping exercise. Most Trusts will have their own committees or work groups looking at the whole area of post mortem and organ retention in order to implement Sheila McLean's report on organ retention. The CSBS Clinical Standards will also have to be taken on board by Trusts. The opportunity for Chaplaincy input was, therefore, very important.

Registration is still a work in progress. Myself and Keith Saunders represented SACH at an initial meeting hosted by Chris Levison, the Training Officer, and the Department of National Mission to discuss the implications and desirability of registration. The meeting was also attended by representatives from the College of Healthcare Chaplains (north and south of the border), the Hospice Chaplains Association, the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church and others. A smaller group met again and from the discussion which took place Chris produced a document summarising the thinking of the two meetings. The consensus was that registration would be a positive move and that we should explore further the best way to proceed. One possibility is that we join other healthcare professions in the Health Professions Council which was set up earlier this year as an independent regulatory body and includes Dieticians, Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers, Occupational Therapists, Paramedics, Radiographers, etc However, I'll leave Chris to speak to all of that that himself.

An essential element of registration is continuing education and professional development. A number of us attended a meeting in Glasgow University which explored a whole range of educational and training options. A very diverse group of people were round the table: lecturers from Glasgow University, Napier College, Aberdeeen University, chaplains, doctors, nurses, people involved in alternative therapies, the prison chaplaincies organiser, and others. The discussion was very wide-ranging and Chris must have had a mammoth task summarising it all. The SACH executive subsequently set up a small group to look at how we as a professional body could promote and support professional development. We did not want to limit the kind of education, training or projects that our members might want to participate in but rather provide a method whereby they could easily record what they had been doing, evaluate it, and assess present and future training needs or aspirations. To this end we have looked at how other professional bodies do this and have drafted some simple forms for use when applying for renewal of registration and a professional development diary as a quick way of recording information which can then be drawn upon when completing these forms. Some samples of these will be on the table during the day for you to look at. There will obviously be cost implications if we decide that something like this would be useful so any comments you have will be welcome.

The Spiritual Care Guidelines have been finalised (though not yet published) and Trusts will be required to develop policies for implementing them. This process will have to be extended due to the late publication of the Guidelines document and I hope that the impetus of the work that Chris did earlier in the year trying to raise the awareness of Trust managers will not have been completely lost, especially with so many management changes having taken place again. This is something else that I'll leave Chris to address.

Some Data Protection issues arose during the year. Patient Confidentiality has become a major concern and chaplains appeared to be faced with losing whatever access to patient demographic information they might have. SACH made representations to MPs, MSPs, and to the Scottish Executive Department of Health. Meetings were held with the Data Protection Officer and the outcome seems to have been positive with chaplains being recognised as part of the core healthcare team. There are, however, still questions and uncertainty in parts of some trusts. Hopefully the implementation and even the discussion of the Guidelines will help with this. One MSP in particular is willing to raise a member's question if the issue isn't satisfactorily resolved and conversations with Health Department officials have been very amicable.

On the employment front. 

  1. Sessional Chaplains are now supposed to be paid a pro-rata rate instead of a sessional rate. I know that John Thomson is working on this but it could be an uphill task persuading Trusts to put the theory into practice.
  2. Pension rights for Whole-time Chaplains who are Church of Scotland ministers employed by the Department of National Mission is another issue. The Church has altered its method of calculating the amount of pension due to ministers. This calculation is being based on minimum stipend plus service allowances plus the Inland Revenue's calculation of the value of a manse. The resultant amount would be payable to ministers living in a manse at the time they retire. The total package for a parish minister in this situation would at the moment amount to more than that of a chaplain. The loss could be 10% or more of pension. The matter has been raised with the Department of National Mission and John Thomson has asked the Pensions Trustees to respond.
  3. If the Guidelines are implemented even partially in terms of the recommended requirements this will necessitate a review of existing provision and how it can be increased. This would have implications for part-time chaplains.

The guidelines and the move to registration of chaplains will inevitably engender uncertainty as well as anticipation and the Association will have to balance its commitment to providing a public and political voice for chaplains with that of looking to the experiences and needs of individual members and how central policies, developments and changes affect the lives of those who do the work on the ground. We have the advantage of being a small enough body to achieve the latter, and we are fortunate to have among our members those who will drive us towards that higher political and public profile which is also necessary.

On behalf of the Association I would want, as ever, to thank James Falconer, Georgina Nelson and David Mitchell for the production of the Journal which certainly does raise the profile of SACH not only in Scotland but in many parts of the world. Fred Coutts for "Soundings" and for the IT skills which he so fully employs on our behalf. Chris for keeping us up to date with Training and Development issues. Also all those who have represented us on various committees, at meetings and on working groups throughout the year.

Personally, I would want to thank both past and present members of the executive for their support during the last three years. When I took on the role of President I said that this was not something I could do as a "one man band" and that I would have to depend on others to share the workload. They have kept their part of the agreement and I am grateful for it. It has been a privilege and a fascinating experience to serve as President of this growing and still fairly new professional body at a time of such change both in Chaplaincy and in the whole healthcare scene. I look forward to the years of further growth and of maturity which lie ahead of SACH.

I know that the new President will be well supported and I wish him/her a successful and fulfilling term of office.