Coronavirus: Deacon who left medicine for church returns to NHS front line

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Rev Dr Susan Salt at ordination and back on the wardImage source, Sara Cuff, Blackburn Diocese/Susan Salt
Image caption,
Susan Salt, who joined the church in 2019, returned to the wards on Friday

A deacon who left medicine to join the church has gone back to the NHS front line to help fight coronavirus because there was "a need and an ask".

The Reverend Dr Susan Salt spent more than 30 years as a physician before joining Blackburn Diocese in 2019.

She decided to rejoin Blackpool Victoria Hospital after the government called on retired medics to return.

She said she hoped her experience meant she could support patients "spiritually and mentally as well as physically".

Dr Salt, who lives in Grimsargh and was working in the Preston and Garstang area, joined a diocese group responding to the pandemic in March, providing medical and bereavement advice and guidance.

However, when the request for former medics to return to the NHS was made, she "felt it was right for me to respond to the call".

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Dr Salt worked at Blackpool Victoria Hospital for more than a decade

Dr Salt returned to Blackpool Victoria's wards, where she previously worked as a palliative care consultant, on Friday and found the experience "very humbling".

"I was inspired by what had been achieved... reorganising everything to respond effectively to this crisis," she said.

"People are working in areas they have never worked in before and the staff are doing their absolute best in the face of near impossible conditions.

"They are showing incredible compassion in a situation they would never want to be in."

Dr Salt said she could see "definite parallels" between being "a priest and a medic".

"Both give me the privilege to look after people and treat everyone as equal and I hope that as a deacon, who happens to be a doctor, I can enable patients... to be cared for spiritually and mentally as well as physically."

The Bishop of Burnley, the Right Reverend Philip North, said Dr Salt had made an "exceptional contribution" to his diocesan response group.

"I enormously admire her obedience to God's call in choosing to return to the medical frontline," he added.

"We look forward to welcoming her back to parish life in due course."

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