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Barney Leith opens the meeting

Sarah Mullally launches Guidance Document

"Caring for the Spirit"

Comments by religious groups

Comments from patients

NHS Chaplaincy - Case Studies




MFGHC Hosts Lauch of NHS Chaplaincy Documents

Two important NHS documents will improve chaplaincy services.

Launch picture
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Patients will benefit from improved support from NHS hospital chaplains after the launch of two important new documents about NHS Chaplaincy.

In opening the meeting, held at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London on 5 November 2003, Barney Leith, the Chair of the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy drew attention to the two long awaited documents being launched that day:

Barney LeithLooking back over the long process which had led to the production of the new Guidelines Barney Leith said, "Today is both an end and a beginning. It is the end of our five years of drafting. It is the beginning of an indefinite period of implementation and training and standard setting and monitoring. The Multi Faith Group stands ready to continue its work, in partnership with the faith communities, with other chaplaincy bodies and with the Department to promote the development of multi-faith chaplaincy to the highest professional levels."

Read the full Text of Barney Leith speech

Sarah Mullally

Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally launched the Department of Health guidance for NHS Trusts on chaplaincy services. The guidance aims to ensure that NHS chaplaincy services reflect the religious diversity of the communities the NHS serves.

Addressing the group of chaplains and others gathered at St Bartholomew's, she explained how NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the Religious and Spiritual needs of Patients and Staff will set a framework for the provision of chaplaincy services and be used as a good practice guide.

She said, "The modern NHS should be capable of responding sensitively to the diverse nature of the communities it serves. One way of doing this is for mullti-faith support and guidance to be available to today's multi-cultural and spiritually diverse patients and staff.

"We see NHS chaplaincy services as offering an important component in the key policy area of improving the patient experience. Specifically, chaplains make a valuable contribution to bereavement care, support and guidance for both patients and staff, and have a commitment to high standards in recruitment practice, both for chaplains and volunteers."

The guidance is truly multi-faith in its conception, having been written and developed by multi-faith organisations. Extensive community links have been used to ensure that the guidance considers those chaplaincy based issues regarded as central to delivering a multicultural patient-led service.

A draft of this guidance underwent a 'listening exercise' during the summer of 2003. The consultation solicited over 100 pieces of feedback, which were taken on board with a view to increasing the document's practical focus, level of utility and modern presentation. The previous Guidance on NHS chaplaincy services was outdated and of limited use to the NHS as it did not reflect new organisational relationships, nor support the multi-faith needs of patients. NHS

Thie new document better reflects the NHS Plan commitment that the service will respond sensitively to the diverse nature of population it serves.Also, by drawing directly upon the experiences of hospital chaplains, it is intended to better illustrate how this aspect of the service interacts with both patients and staff.

Full Text of NHS Chaplaincy:
Meeting the Religious and Spiritual needs of Patients and Staff


Tim Battle, Barney Leith,Sarah Mullally and Barbara Walsh in conversation

Caring for the Spirit

Text of "Caring for the Spirit"

The second document launched was Caring for the Spirit: a strategy for the chaplaincy and spiritual healthcare workforce prepared by the South Yorkshire Workforce Development Confederation.

The Confederation's Chief Executive Barbara Walsh said: "The chaplain workforce may be small in number but has a significant impact on the lives and work of patients, staff and organisations in the NHS. The NHS has a duty to ensure that the physical, mental, social and spiritual elements of its patients and staff are cared for. The chaplain can and does make the difference between a good and an absolutely excellent health care experience.

"Chaplains and the other members of the spiritual healthcare workforce need the same level of support and development in providing their services to patients and staff as do other healthcare professionals. Caring for the Spirit will enable Trusts and their chaplaincies to make progress in a clear direction which supports better care and better services.

There are significant challenges for the spiritual healthcare workforce in ensuring that all patients and staff are cared for in an individual way that meets their personal needs. Chaplains are expert in working with people of faith and with those who have none. Our strategy will ensure that the spiritual healthcare team can develop its care in an inclusive and holistic way"

Caring for the Spirit is based on evidence from NHS, chaplaincy, healthcare professional and other bodies submitted to a small project group established by South Yorkshire WDC in January 2003.

The document is available at the South Yorkshire Strategic health authority website:

The strategy is being distributed as a CD presentation comprising the introductory video; the strategy document and its slide presentation; and the report of a foundation exercise of Patient and Public Involvement in chaplaincy.

South Yorkshire Workforce Development Confederation has taken the lead on behalf of all WDCs for the chaplaincy and spiritual healthcare workforce since Spring 2002. This strategy arises from an initial survey of all chaplaincies about workforce issues undertaken during 2002.

In addition to the submission of evidence by the 40 or so individuals and organisations, up to 250 working chaplains were involved in workshops and consultation meetings to develop the strategy proposals

For further information, please contact Tim Battle, Project Officer (020 7898 1893) or Moira Coad, Director of Corporate Development (0114 226 4415)

Full Text of "Caring for the Spirit"


Both documents have been welcomed by religious groups.

Reverend Geoffrey Roper
Chairman of the Churches Committee for Healthcare Chaplaincy

"The Churches Committee for Healthcare Chaplaincy welcomes the affirmation and development of chaplaincy and spiritual care which these documents represent. We are keen to support a modern, responsive and professional chaplaincy service within the NHS.
"We can testify to the effectiveness of this partnership between the NHS and the churches and welcome the inclusion of other world faiths into the partnership, the better to meet the spiritual and religious needs of patients and staff."

Rabbi Martin van den ~BerghRabbi Martin van den Bergh
co-ordinator of Jewish Chaplaincy Services
in London and the South

"The Jewish Community welcomes the Government's commitment to patient spiritual care with the launch of its new guidance. It also welcomes the recognition of multi-faith and multi-cultural issues within spiritual care. The Community hopes that this commitment will be translated into concrete and continuing support."

Rt Rev Christopher HerbertThe Right Reverend Christopher Herbert
Chairman of the Hospital Chaplaincies Council
and Lead Bishop for the NHS

"Healthcare chaplains, and their managers, will welcome the documents being launched today. They address two fundamental issues - setting the provision of chaplaincy-spiritual care in 2003 at the centre of the holistic care offered by the NHS, and effective training and development of those who provide chaplaincy. Whilst the language of the documents is, naturally, that of management, the issues these documents cover go to the heart of what is involved in caring for the sick and vulnerable and those who look after them."

Barney Leith
Secretary, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom

"The Bahá'í community is heartened by the government's commitment to multi-faith healthcare chaplaincy. The launch of these two documents clearly demonstrates a recognition that spiritual healthcare for patients and staff of all faiths is of the greatest importance."

Barney Leith and Shafiqur Rahman

Shafiqur Rahman
Muslim Chaplain at The Royal London Hospital,

"Living as we do in a pluralistic society, it is increasingly necessary to take account of the variety of perspectives and approaches in health care including the provision of care for the spirit. The Muslim community appreciates this move by the Department of Health towards recognising the context of multifaith spiritual care in the form of multifaith chaplaincy and welcomes the launch of this new guidance.

"It is hoped that this guidance will improve provision of patients' spiritual care on the ground, in line with the their own beliefs, offering an enhanced support to religio-cultural practices in the processes of healing and restoration of health."

Rev Edward LewisThe Reverend Edward Lewis
Chief Officer of the Multi-Faith Group
for Healthcare Chaplaincy

"The launch of the Department of Health guidance as well as South Yorkshire Workforce Development Confederation's 'Caring for the Spirit' marks an important step forward for chaplaincy. Both are to be commended for having the vision to begin this innovative approach to chaplaincy-spiritual care provision and development.
These documents will enable chaplains and managers to ensure that they are equipped to support the patient experience as well as colleagues who deliver care at all levels.
Respect for all faith communities will be shown in the provision of appropriate spiritual and religious care for all who use the NHS."

Bimal Krishna das
General Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)

"The National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) welcomes these documents, which will certainly assist in providing much needed spiritual care to both the patients and the staff in an appropriate way.
Britain is becoming a multi-faith society and public services provided
must reflect and cater for these diverse religious needs. Health
care is no exception. We hope that the new proposals will bring about effective changes in all health care settings for the long term benefit of the patients and staff."

Improving the patients' experience
- patients' comments

Some of the comments from patients of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust:

"Thank you for all your efforts to help me with my problem. You have helped me beyond my wildest expectations. Thank you for being there when someone just needed a listening ear."

"May I mention how the simple but sincere nterdenominational service was a comfort - the officiating chaplains delightfully setting an appropriate welcome and encouragement to all present."

"Thank you for everything you did for us through this sad time. Your support was very much appreciated."

"You may not remember us but we remember you. You helped us enormously...thank you for your kindness."

Labina Rahman, a medical student and former patient at Barts and the London NHS Trust

"The Chaplain plays a special role in providing emotional support for the patient and their families in the hospital setting. Clinical staff are unlikely to have the time to deal with the psychological impact that treatment may have on the patient. As a result, patients may feel overwhelmed by the experience of being unwell and having to face thier own mortality.
The chaplain provides counselling and help at this critical time. The Muslim chaplain will have special knowledge of the Muslim patient's beliefs and attitudes towards their own health, life and death. This knowledge is vital in ensuring that patients' wishes are understood and dealt with accordingly."

NHS Chaplaincy Case Studies