Shuna Watkinson (second from the right) and the Endoscopy Team at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
I feel very fortunate to be a paid Healer in the NHS for the past 8 years. I am the Complementary Therapy Coordinator at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust which covers three hospitals - one large general hospital in Stevenage and two smaller hospitals which are mainly for outpatients and diagnostics.
How I found myself here is a long story, but the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust played a key role throughout. Back in 2008 I completed their "Healing in Hospitals" course which directly led to an opportunity at the Trust. Since this NHS post was set up, the Charity has been a constant support both financially and with wisdom!
I am now funded by the Respiratory and Endoscopy departments at The Trust, holding a part-time post fully integrated within the clinical team. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues, especially Patricia Swann the Lung Cancer Nurse, who has done and continues to do so much to promote the service. To quote Patricia: "if it's good for our patients, we want it"!
Our complementary therapy team is made up of four excellent volunteer therapists. This allows us to cover a large number of areas and departments within the Trust while offering therapy to patients, carers and staff. We can be found in clinics, wards, the Macmillan chemotherapy centre and in endoscopy.
We often work on a "first aid" basis - catching people when they're at their most vulnerable, offering our services to people as needed in wards and clinics, and through staff referrals. It's wonderful being a trusted part of the team, with all of us working together for the best possible outcome.
A consultant once mentioned to me "it's made a huge difference to the level of anxiety of my patient". It is delightful to hear outcomes like this, and it encourages consultants and other staff to actively promote the service. When patients are more relaxed it is more pleasant for staff too - everyone's happy!
Patients who have received complementary therapy services say things like "I haven't been that relaxed since my diagnosis" or "since I saw you my pain has virtually gone" or just a slightly surprised but heartfelt "thank you!". Hearing feedback like this is incredible and I am so thankful to be able to provide these services to patients within the NHS.