Lancashire priest answers the call to action - and swaps dog collar for blue scrubs as she returns to NHS frontline

A reverend has swapped her white dog collar for some blue scrubs – answering Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s plea for former medics to return to the frontline.

By Michael Holmes
Saturday, 18th April 2020, 6:00 am

Rev Susan Salt, a former GP who went on to work at Trinity Hospice before quitting to become a deacon in Preston and Garstang, is now treating Covid-19 patients in the resort.

“There was clearly a need and an ask,” she said. “Having left medicine very recently and being qualified in a skill set that was required at this time, I felt it was right for me to respond to the call.

“It was very humbling to return and I was inspired by what had been achieved by the staff and the trust, reorganising everywhere to respond effectively to this crisis. 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.

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Rev Susan Salt back at Blackpool Victoria Hospital yesterday (Picture: Daniel Martino for JPIMedia)

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

Susan has more than 30 year’s experience in medicine. After first qualifying, she trained as a GP but, after taking up an agency position in a hospital, she realised her future lay in palliative medicine.

In 2007, she became medical director at Trinity, in Low Moor Road, Bispham, and a palliative care consultant at the Vic, in Whinney Heys Road.

She left last summer and was ordained in the Blackburn Diocese at Blackburn Cathedral, and was working as a deacon in five parishes covering Preston and Garstang.

Rev Salt quit Trinity Hospice, where she worked as medical director, to join the Church of England

She added: “I have no idea how long I will be at the Victoria Hospital, but have committed for at least a month so far, and will review the situation after that. My roles have definite parallels, as 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, their families, as well as the staff, to be cared for spiritually and mentally as well as physically.”

The Bishop of Burnley, Philip North, who heads up a diocesan Covid-19 taskforce which Susan was a part of, said she has “made an exceptional contribution” and added: “I enormously admire her obedience to God’s call in choosing to return to the medical frontline at this time.

“We look forward to welcoming her back to parish life in due course for her imminent ordination as a priest.”