Licensing Karen Reeves to Milton Keynes Hospital as colleague to Carole Hough on Friday, felt like a new beginning for the trust, as well as the chaplaincy. Karen brings a strong professional background in hospital and community healthcare, along with a profound commitment to justice, social inclusion and peace. MK is very much the kind of diverse, fast-moving urban environemnt in which she has really flourished.
Milton Keynes has grown continuously and exponentially over 30 years, with a chronic and worsening overhang as money follows people, sometimes several years behind. This makes any social, health, educational planning a nightmare. Hospitals are especially vulnerable, as a burgeoning young population puts an immense load on the whole system. As MK grows into the 10th biggest city in the country, John Prescott's target for 2020, this problem rages on.
The temptation is always to sweat the immediate challenges, whilst ignoring the big unfolding context. MK Hospitals NHS Trust, chaired by Mike Rowlands and, since last summer, Walter Greaves, has worked hard to make the most of the realities, challenges and opportunities of Milton Keynes, short and long term. Where chaplaincy could easily become roadkill, the trust has worked hard to provide proper spiritual care in in very trying circumstances. Karen’s arival is a tanglible sign of that commitment.
After a few years of backs-to-the-wall, through which Carole has, incredibly, managed to cope, Friday’s service was good news. Karen’s arrival, partnership with bereavement services, a good and supportive trust (Thanks to Gill Rodney and, particularly Nicola Lester), means the chaplancy team is now back on track for full out of hours cover, increasing voluntary support, developing its present excellent ecumenical and interfaith character, and a host of other good work. The Creation hanging in the chapel was by sisters from Turvey Abbey — a beautiful piece of work, that looks all the better at a time of great hope, as well as challenge, for the hospital...