The Chaplain’s Blog: HPMA Winner for Innovation in 2014

Last year, the Reverend David Southall was the proud winner of the HPMA Award for Innovation with his idea for how to spread good news rather than bad news. Here he gives us an update on how the blog has progressed since the award and in the next article, he will explain how to set up your own version.


Following the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid, the Chaplain’s Blog ( is as simple as it comes. The idea was to have a public forum for the abundant good news stories which people have of their experiences within the NHS at Worcestershire Acute Hospital’s NHS Trust and to counterbalance the fear and negativity of the press headlines. And so I began the blog. I had no idea if anyone would read it! No idea if anyone would post stories on it! Just the desire to present the other side of the story.

And so, after nearly 400,000 views, and countless good news stories sent to me, I can say that the blog has exceeded any expectations I had for it. I have had support from key stakeholders in the NHS including NHS England and NHS Employers as well as local MPs and I have been the proud recipient of the HPMA award for Innovation and the Chairman’s Award at our in-house Staff Achievement Awards.

So what is the secret of this idea? Well I think it rests on the fact that the results from a recent survey showed that the Chaplain’s Blog increased staff morale and increased the community’s confidence in the service it could expect from our Trust. However, the blog has moved on from merely being a purveyor of good news and now contains reflections on practice across the country. On the back of this I now have a weekly column in the local media, have had several local radio appearances and have a Chaplain’s Blog spot on the Nursing Times website. The blog now has a national dimension and is read, tweeted, retweeted and passed on to other nursing and medical communities, with one entry even being used by England’s Chief Nurse. In short, people seem to believe that the Chaplain’s Blog can make an impact on staff morale and patient engagement.

My ‘good news blog’ treads a fine line. It is independent. What is posted is there because I have put it there without pressure from anyone else – it is, in short my responsibility. However, I also want it to promote and showcase the great work that my Trust in particular, and the NHS in general, provides.

I’m now aware that I have written all this without mentioning any of the blog posts. So you can read of a baby funeral which I took, of someone’s experience on a ward, of my own burnout; or of a colleague’s commitment to the 6C’s. It’s all there, so why not go and have a look. The stories represent the day-to-day miracles that go on in the NHS – miracles which rarely get space in our newspapers but which deserved to be told.

And, apart from the survey, I have had staff tell me of how much the blog means to them. “So good to hear the good things that we do!” “I’ve got to stop reading it ‘cos it makes me cry!” and the overwhelming opinion that the Chaplain’s Blog is worth the candle.

This is the brave new world of social media and I have found that engaging with it in a meaningful way can have astounding effects.

Rev’d Dr. David Southall is Chaplaincy Team Leader at Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust.

David is always eager to hear from people about the blog. He can be reached on or you can follow him on Twitter @revdavesouthall or @WeChaplains

If you would like to get an independent view on what he has writen the Chairman, Harry Turner will gladly give you some time and can be emailed at


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