A WORCESTER chaplain is leading the way in promoting spiritual care in hospitals across the country.

Chaplain at Worcestershire Royal Hospital Rev David Southall recently launched the WeChaplains Twitter group after feeling healthcare workers across the country were not being given enough information or encouragement to look after patient's spiritual and emotional needs as well as their medical needs.

Rev Southall said he had been inspired to set up the group after discovering the WeNurses website, which holds online chats for people working in healthcare to share information and tips on working more effectively.

"The people behind WeNurses have other 'We' groups for learning difficulties, midwives and so on," he said. "I wanted to incorporate spiritual care into that.

"I asked them if they'd like to hold a Twitter chat on spiritual care, which was quite popular."

Following the online chat last December, which attracted hundreds of messages, Rev Southall decided to set up the specialised @WeChaplains Twitter feed to provide a dedicated online forum for spiritual issues in healthcare.

"The idea was to do a couple of things," he said. "One was to provide a forum for chaplains in healthcare. About 10 per cent of the followers are healthcare chaplains, some of whom are not overly keen on twitter.

"The other part is to provide a forum for getting spiritual care in the NHS a higher profile and to encourage nurses and managers to prioritise spiritual care in the care they give."

He said he was delighted with how popular the twitter feed - which now has 1,100 followers - had proved.

"It's not just about religion," he said. "It’s about compassion, hand-holding and sitting and listening.

"I'm trying to broaden what spirituality is. If it encourages nurses to spend more time on these things then that's good.

"You can use it to form really good relationships with people.

"I've never had any bad or negative feedback but I have had a few people wanted to genuinely discuss why they think spiritually doesn't fit in."

Although Rev Southall set up the group single-handedly, he now works with a number of other chaplains to keep it running.

"We're in a position now to start holding our own Twitter chats," he said.

"I'm quite excited about it."

To find out more visit @WeChaplains on Twitter or Rev Southall's blog at revdavidsouthall.com