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Bereavement Counselling in the modern day NHS


After 13 months since losing Janice to such an awful disease I’m finally granted bereavement counselling courtesy of the NHS.  Its proven very difficult to access any services for bereavement when you actually need them!

Since Janice didn’t pass at the hospital she was under their care I wasn’t permitted to use their bereavement service.  Cruse were not taking on any case loads due to funding and lack of resources, GP was tearing their hair out as bereavement support is so badly lacking.  If it was not for the charity WAY (Widowed and Young) who knows what might have happened.

A counsellor called me to arrange an appointment, and I turn up to the address given to me.

The facilities were run down, dirty and frankly quite depressing, a stark contrast to private counselling hosted in modern inviting facilities (or maybe I’m missing the point).

I “Sign in” to a book that simply asks for initials, date and person to see.  The book is available to anyone and not protected by reception, it doesn’t add any real value to the “Fire Safety Requirement” for visitors signing into the premises.

I wend my way up one floor to the waiting area, littered with used tissues, wrappers, heavily stained office carpet installed in the 80’s (probably) and sit in the least soiled chair available.

A friendly looking lady pops her head around a door and asks if I’m Jason? I say yes… “Follow me she says…”

I hobble the short distance to her office/room which didn’t look any better than the rest of the building.  Two heavily soiled chairs, desk, litter on the floor, an EMDR light therapy unit which was used in the last session with cables scattered everywhere as a tripping hazard (And not the Hey Man good trip? Kinda way!), all squeezed in what is a 6 x 4-foot room with two doors!

The other door had a piece of tape covering the eye hole and you could clearly hear someone typing and talking in the room behind that door.

The lady introduces herself, her role in the NHS, emphasises that all conversations are confidential to her and her supervisor, unless of course I’m at risk to myself or others in which case a ballet of people will get involved…

On the question of privacy, I politely ask how can a session be private if the person beyond the door can listen to all conversations.  I’m informed the situation isn’t ideal for a Mental Health Unit (Really?!?) but my choice is to go back on the waiting list for a counsellor at a different facility to be available!  Given I’ve waited more than a year, Hobson’s choice really…

I suspect a course on the Data Protection Act, General Data Protection Regulation and UK Privacy Laws are in order for whomever is responsible for provisioning that facility, but I’ll save that for another day…

I’m asked if I know why I’m here? WTF, seriously?  I then start to explain, but cut short as I’m instructed to complete a standard form which assess my anxiety and depression levels, and scored appropriately…

No talking about my issues until forms are complete (Achtung Achtung… Patients Vill Be Compliant Yah!)

There’s more blurb on what the counsellor is trained in (apparently not bereavement), and then a whole spiel on how she’s constantly assessing herself for quality and assurance purposes, could I work with her and vice-versa and a whole load of other arse covering legal-ease about the services they offer.  She says, I will be offered approx. 10-15 sessions if required.

Now facilities aside, I would expect the skill of the individual dealing with bereavement be key rather than the environment they operate in, but a bit of tidy up wouldn’t go amiss…

A number of the forms that needed to be filled were meant to be sent to me before the session to save time.  This didn’t happen, and then I’m offered an explanation about how crap the IT systems are, and how there are different IT systems within the NHS that don’t talk to each other so any data from my assessment last year wouldn’t be accessible by this counsellor as she is on a different IT system to the other counsellor!

I’m so glad our tax is being spent wisely at the large consultancy delivering consolidated IT platforms (or milking the NHS with high contract rates and junior earn-as-you-learn-coders).

After all that, there were about 10 minutes left in the session to actually talk about why I am here.  During which it was close to 4pm and all she was interested in was going getting away on time…

Overall, the first session was of no benefit to me, merely an opportunity for a disillusions NHS worker to complain about the levels of admin/paperwork/and moan how bad IT and facilities were in the NHS…

Next session not for a while since the counsellor’s  on holiday and family matters to deal with…


  1. Whilst I had nicer surroundings (albeit at the surgery which outlaws are registered at which brought on mild panic) I had a better experience. Mind you I too had to fill out questionnaires and forms as if not had the links to the forms- got the same apologies about the IT system and then was told it’d be a bit of a wait till I get an actual appointment for my EMDR therapy. Thank god for WAY at least I can talk to people who actually understand and care!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forms are inevitable, for me the difference was private the emphasis was on the counselling (paperwork as at the minimum), where as NHS the emphasis was on the paperwork and the counselling thing is an inconvenience to the form filling. A shame really, the lady was nice and explained about government and council metrics and statistics and their importance to their service…

      So glad you had a better experience though 🙂


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