Biennial Review 2003-2004

Rabbi Martin van den Bergh, Chair 2005-06

The history of the Multi-Faith Group
The Hon Barney Leith, Chair 2003-04

The work of the Multi-Faith Group in 2003-2004
Revd Edward Lewis, Chief Officer



Membership of the Multi-Faith Group

of the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy

Biennial Review (Acrobat PDF Format)



Rabbi Martin van den Bergh

I am delighted to welcome you to this first edition of the Multi-Faith Group's Biennial Review. Recorded here are the achievements and progress we have made together since the Group was formed in November 2002.

The Conference at which this review is published is part of the recognition that the delivery of chaplaincy and spiritual care is no longer a unitary, add on or optional service, but lies at the heart of patient-centred holistic care in a multi-faith/multi-cultural society. This recognition raises the challenge that spiritual and religious care providers should maintain the high standards expected across the whole healthcare spectrum, and that they should be sensitive to the needs of patients, staff and families.

MFGHC and its precursor the working party that resulted from Multi-Faith Joint National Consultation that took place in 1997, has worked to develop the NHS Chaplaincy Guidance and has brought together all the agencies involved in healthcare Chaplaincy and spiritual care services. Above all it has empowered faith communities to have a voice in an area that is valued by all faiths – the continued respect and support of the human spirit when faced with challenging and often life changing health scenarios.

For that voice to be authentic it also needs to be cognisant of the standards expected of all other healthcare professionals. Therefore the MFGHC is continuing to address issues of authorisation, training and standards. It also needs to ensure that multi-faith provision is both authentic and appropriate to the patient within his or her healthcare encounter.

The MFGHC is a unique forum bringing together diverse faith representatives in a common cause and out of a sense of true friendship and respect; representatives of those well established chaplaincy agencies to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for promoting and developing the concept of multi-faith chaplaincy; and representation from the South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority which has strategic responsibility for NHS chaplaincy provision, and which is generously sponsoring this conference.

In closing these remarks, I wish to pay tribute to all those who have supported and sustained our development to the stage we are now. Particularly, Bishop Hewlett Thompson who chaired the inaugural conference in 1997 and enabled the working party to start; Barney Leith who lead us so strongly through our formation period and who contributes a note about our history to this review; and, finally, to all those unsung healthcare chaplains who have striven to ensure that their patients and staff of all faiths have been able to receive the chaplaincy-spiritual healthcare appropriate to them. All these are in our hearts as we go forward into our second biennial period.

Rabbi Martin van den Bergh
Chair, 2005-06


A little bit of history – the origins and development of the Multi Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy

Barney Leith

First moves towards establishing a joint consultation between faith community representatives to plan a common approach towards the future of spiritual care and healthcare chaplaincy were initiated by the Hospital Chaplaincies Council (HCC) in October 1994. At its meeting in October 1995, the HCC decided that the Autumn of 1997 would be a good time to hold such a consultation, after the General Election that would probably take place in the Spring of 1997.

A working party, set up to plan the agenda for the joint consultation first met in Church House in May 1997. They agreed that the main purpose of the ‘Joint National Consultation on Spiritual Care/Chaplaincy in the NHS', scheduled for 20 and 21 October 1997 would be to seek a vision of society in 21 st century Britain that would respect the philosophical and spiritual values of all communities, to confirm the government's objectives for spiritual care in the NHS, and to enable the faith communities to negotiate and co-operate in developing a common system for the provision of spiritual care for their respective communities.

The joint national consultation, with representatives of the major Churches and faith communities, opened in Church House with addresses from Baroness Flather, from Frank Dobson MP, then Secretary of State for Health, and from Alan Langlands, then Chief Executive of the NHS. The whole conference then moved to the All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, where the major work of the consultation took place.

However, it wasn't until 4 June 1998 that the first follow-up meeting from the joint national consultation could take place and the prolonged series of discussions that eventually led to the launch by the Department of Health of NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the Spiritual and Religious Needs of Patients and Staff , the guidance document that replaced HSG (92) 2.

The drafting process by the joint national working party was very carefully done. The then co-ordinator, the Revd Robert Clarke, who was also the Chief Executive of the Hospital Chaplaincies Council, ensured that every voice was heard and that every theme and concern from the faith community spokespersons was registered.

Through the drafting process the faith community representatives worked well together. We learned a great deal about the diverse needs of the different faith communities and particularly about the challenges faced by the smaller communities and those who were new to the field of chaplaincy provision.

But while the faith group representatives developed a real sense of solidarity through working for the common good, unfortunately the wheels of the NHS and the Department of Health ground more slowly that we would have wished and it proved difficult to get the draft documents approved. These difficulties were compounded by changes of Secretary of State and by quite radical changes in the approach of the Department to its oversight of the NHS. Directive language was no longer acceptable and the Working Party had to ‘translate' its draft into the new, non-directive, language of guidance.

There were times when we felt that our work would never see the light of day and it really wasn't until the then Chief Nursing Officer, Sarah Mullally, put her authority and considerable energy behind the drafting and approval process that the Working Party could see genuine progress being made.

Following Robert Clarke's retirement as Chief Executive of the Hospital Chaplaincies Council, the Working Party welcomed the Revd Edward Lewis, the new HCC Chief Executive, as its Co-ordinator in the autumn of 2000. It is always challenging to come into the middle of something that has been going on for some years, but Edward rose nobly to the challenge at a time when the Working Party's morale was at a low ebb because of the lack of progress in obtaining approval for the new guidance document.

It is perhaps a sign of the commitment of all the faith group representatives to the importance of chaplaincy in the NHS that the group persevered through its dark moments and that it was able to come out the other side with its unity intact.

Tribute must be paid to the work of Liz Paffey, PA successively to Robert Clarke and Edward Lewis. Liz's calm and efficient administration enabled the group to give of its best. It also helped in the transitional period following Robert's retirement and as Edward took up the reins of the group. Following Liz's retirement the group has learned to rely equally heavily on Tim Battle, one of whose several hats is that of administrator to the Working Party's successor body, the Multi Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy. Tim's excellent work has given us a constitution and has provided us with a framework within which the Multi Faith Group's output on education and standards is being developed.

In February 2002 Edward wrote to the spokespersons for the faith communities to say that he had agreed a ‘final timetable' with Lesley Hilton, who had been appointed in the previous year as the Principal Officer for the NHS Executive with responsibility for Hospital Chaplaincy Policy. This was not the first attempt to establish a final timetable and that ‘final timetable' was subject to a further year's slippage.

At the same time, the Multi Faith Joint National Working Party was giving consideration to what would happen next. There were suggestions that there could be a commission for multi-faith chaplaincy, but the discussions concluded that the Working Party should be wound up and that those on the Working Party would become the Multi Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy.

The Multi Faith Group was inaugurated without ceremony in November 2002 and continued to work on the draft guidance document. With the support of the Chief Nursing Officer, the document as drafted was put through a further process of rewriting to make it acceptable to the Department of Health's requirements for such documents. The listening exercise for the final draft was launched on 25 June 2003 on the parliamentary estate at a reception, hosted by Peter Bottomley MP, to celebrate the formation of the Multi Faith Group.

The final version of the document, entitled NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the Religious and Spiritual Needs of Patients and Staff was launched at an event in the Great Hall of Bart's Hospital on 5 November 2003 shared with the South Yorkshire NHS Workforce Development Confederation, who were launching Caring for the Spirit , their important and parallel document about the professional development of healthcare chaplaincy.

Chief Nursing Officer Sarah Mullally commented at the launch:

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 multi-faith support and guidance to be available to today's multi-cultural and spiritually diverse patients and staff.

She went on to thank the members of the Multi Faith Group and its predecessor body, the Joint National Working Party, for working with the NHS and the Department of Health in compiling the guidance.

Of course, this was not the end of the story and the work of the Multi Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy continues.

Barney Leith
(former Chair, Multi Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy)


The MFGHC was launched formally at a small event in the Palace of Westminster in June 2003. The launch event was hosted by Peter Bottomley MP and the MFGHC was launched by Mrs Sarah Mullally, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health on behalf of the Minister of State (Health).

The work of the Multi-Faith Group
in 2003-2004

The Work of Council

The listening exercise undertaken by the Department of Health to consider the revised policy guidance much of which was drafted by the predecessor body to the MFGHC was completed in mid-August 2003. More than 300 comments were received most of them from people working in NHS Trusts with the main areas of comment being on the section about confidentiality (25%) and those on the overall framework and on volunteers (10% each). A small group drawn mainly from MFGHC worked with Department of Health officials to revise the guidance in the light of these comments.

The Council contributed to the joint events with South Yorkshire WDC which launched the new workforce strategy Caring for the Spirit to NHS Trust Chairs. Five events took place across the country and the MFGHC involvement was well received and helpful.

The Council was much concerned by the report of the review of the Department of Health's central allocation for chaplaincy issued in July 2004. The Council had agreed an approach to funding priorities which suggested that their top priority was support for the development of a central office resource for healthcare chaplaincy in all world faiths but this aspiration was not met. The Council will press the South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority to which responsibility for implementation has now been passed for equity in this allocation amongst the world faiths

The Council has been involved in meetings and correspondence concerning the relations between various chaplaincy bodies. It has supported the initiative taken by the Chief Nursing Officer to agree a modus operandi amongst several of these and subsequently it supported the proposals for continuing personal and professional development in spiritual healthcare put forward by South Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority. The Council has been disappointed that so much effort has been placed on organisational issues to the detriment of those which support delivering spiritual care.

The work of the Education Committee

The Education Committee was asked to propose criteria which should be used to validate education and training courses in healthcare chaplaincy . The Committee suggested that support should be given to courses which were multi-faith and not limited to a single faith community and concerned with aspects of chaplaincy practice as defined in the current chaplaincy occupational standards. The Committee also looked for the involvement of other healthcare professionals; proposals for improving the quality of experience for healthcare users; and conformity with the advice in the SYWDC workforce strategy.

The Education Committee has agreed to marshal the resources for world faith chaplaincies and multi-faith chaplaincy already available. The Co-Chairs have written for help to NHS Trust chaplaincies and the results of this effort will be launched in 2005.

Two study days were held under the auspices of the Education Committee. The first was a general study day for those interested in world faith chaplaincy head at the Buddhist Society Offices in January 2003. The second was a study day for world faith chaplains held at Derby Royal Infirmary in March 2004. These days were well attended and useful. They were sponsored by the Department of Health and hosted by the Buddhist Society and the Chaplaincy of Derby Royal Infirmary to whom the Council is grateful.

The work of the Standards Committee

The Standards Committee held a study day in Birmingham in March 2003 to begin the preparation of advice for NHS bodies about standards for healthcare chaplaincy . The draft standards were considered by the Council and subsequently modified to allow for more easy presentation. They are currently being further refined after informal discussion with a small groups of expert chaplains and will go for listening exercises with the NHS and with chaplaincies during 2005.

The Department of Health consulted on its own NHS standards during summer 2004 without including any reference to spirituality. After strong representation from the Council and from South Yorkshire SHA and from individual chaplains, all of whom argued for the inclusion of spirituality in these standards, reference to spirituality was included in the final version issued in July 2004.

The work in support of the Multi-Faith Group

The administration work in support of the Council and its committees has been undertaken by Edward Lewis and his staff. This work has involved support to some 13 committee meetings, 7 bulletins, 5 launch events and numerous other involvements including an excellent website. The Council is grateful for this help in its start-up period which it estimates has a value of some £17K per annum. Despite applying for grant aid, no funds have been forthcoming as yet and the Council will persist in its efforts.

The work of the Council and its Committees would not be possible without the enthusiasm energy and hard work of its members, Chairs and Co-Chairs. They have attended, read, contributed and decided and the results reported here reflect their major contribution of which the Group is justifiably proud. The involvement of members is without expense and usually voluntary.

Revd Edward Lewis
Chief Officer


Membership of the Multi-Faith Group at December 2004


faith community/organisation

Ervad Rustam Bhedwar


Mrs Valerina Clark


Mrs Joy Conway


Mr Bimal Krsna das


Revd Bob Evans

Free Churches

The Hon Barney Leith – Chair


Revd Edward Lewis – Chief Officer


Rev Robert Lloyd Richards (Observer)

College of Health Care Chaplains

Mr Sital Singh Maan


Mr Ron Maddox


Mr Baldev Singh Mawi


Mr Manhar Mehta


Mr Jayman Mehta


Mr Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin


Revd Christine Pocock

Free Churches

HM Shafique Rahman


Mr Kishor Ruparelia


Mr Paul Seto
(resigned October 2004)


Revd Preb. Peter Speck


Rt. Revd Howard Tripp
(resigned January 2004)

Roman Catholic

Rabbi Martin van den Bergh


Mrs Barbara Walsh

South Yorkshire Workforce Development Confederation

Revd Peter Wells

Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains

Rt. Revd Tom Williams

Roman Catholic