Row over ‘inappropriate’ butterfly symbol at Worthing and Southlands hospitals

A BREAST cancer support group is furious with its local NHS trust for linking its butterflies logo with dead or dying patients.

Worthing Hospital’s Butterflies breast care support charity wants Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust to axe its plan to use a butterfly symbol to denote “sensitive” hospital areas.

Butterflies group chairman Jim Nelson told the Herald: “The idea of a butterfly being used in another, and rather inappropriate context, would be, at the very least, confusing and, at the most, deeply distressing to our 100-plus members.”

The trust’s intentions have been outlined in its Headlines news bulletin.

An article announces: “Wards and other clinical areas will be using a butterfly symbol at the entrance to the ward or bay/room to raise awareness to all staff that there is a sensitive situation in that area, such as a death or dying patient.

“Staff will then be able to adapt their behaviour accordingly to provide a quiet, respectful environment for the patient and family. This will be especially helpful for staff who are visiting the ward.”

Mr Nelson said the Butterflies support group was formed about 16 years ago, and its name and logo had since become familiar to thousands of people in the Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton areas as a symbol of help and hope for women diagnosed with breast cancer, and during and after subsequent treatment.

“The symbol of the butterfly does have a great deal of meaning for us,” continued Mr Nelson.

“For us, it is symbolic of the chrysalis turning into a butterfly and the start of a new beginning, rather than the opposite.

“It would be impossible to change our logo and group name at this stage, because we are known by the butterflies symbol.”

Cathy Stone, the trust’s director of nursing, told the Herald on Tuesday: “Sometimes, it is important for staff to know that there are relatives or carers who are extremely upset, and who have a particular need for peace, quiet, and privacy at a desperately difficult time.

“It is important that we do everything we can to support them, and to avoid adding to their sadness or grief.

“Other hospitals across the country have started to use a butterfly symbol to alert staff at such times, and so we decided to use that widely-recognised image as well.

“These symbols are usually very small, only for the attention of staff, and are only put on display for short periods when people may be particularly distressed.

“We understand the concerns of the group, and senior nursing staff are keen to meet with them to discuss the matter in greater detail, should they wish to do so.”