Call to secularise NHS chaplaincy services

Oct 14, 2014

By National Secular Society

Secularists have criticised new draft NHS England chaplaincy guidelines for failing to adequately recognise the needs of patients who do not identify with a religious faith.

NHS England is consulting on new chaplaincy guidelines intended to update and improve the provision of chaplaincy and spiritual care across the NHS. The guidance includes an explicit recognition of the need to provide guidance “for the care of patients and service users who do not identify with a religious faith”.

However, in a joint submission to an NHS England consultation, the National Secular Society and the Secular Medical Forum criticised the guidelines for being too focussed on religious care rather than providing an inclusive service that benefits all patients and NHS staff.

Chaplaincy services are funded from NHS budgets. Despite purporting to provide ‘spiritual care’ to all, the role is only open to individuals who can obtain satisfactory recommendation and authorisation by their faith community.


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5 comments on “Call to secularise NHS chaplaincy services

  • @OP – Chaplaincy services are funded from NHS budgets. Despite purporting to provide ‘spiritual care’ to all, the role is only open to individuals who can obtain satisfactory recommendation and authorisation by their faith community.

    This is the fundamental flaw. State funded services should be provided by qualified councillors with medical training and qualifications, not as arms of evangelising organisations.



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  • Let me get this right. Chaplains are publicly funded to minister to their flock in a hospital setting! This hardly seems right! Considering the state of religiosity in the UK at the moment, it would appear that they’d have a very easy job. Money for jam!
    Qualified councillors would be able to give valuable assistance to each and all, thus earning their day’s pay. Just in the interests of value for money, the secular appointees would have to be a better choice.



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  • I had no idea these guys were being funded by the NHS. I thought they were volunteers funded by the hospital sweet shop. Must remember to ask for an Imam to sing a few prayers whilst standing on a chair, in the ward, next time I am in hospital and in need of some spiritual healing.



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  • Hi Nitya,

    of course here in Australia we’re paying for chaplains in our schools. They are not meant to proselytise but they do things like bring out truck-bourne skate board half pipes to entertain the kids at lunch time and advertise where they are going to be on the weekend (where they will proselytise) and rock bands etc. Perhaps our incumbent government worried as it is by balancing the budget could cut all these programs and get the churches to pay tax, then we would balance the books quick smart.



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  • Reckless.
    of course here in Australia we’re paying for chaplains in our schools.

    And don’t I know it! The same everywhere…the government is foisting religion on an apathetic public at every turn! They’re definitely trying to turn the tide on the loss of religion in the young! they’re determined to bring them into the faith thinking community even pulling obvious stunts like the ones you’ve mentioned. They have no shame!



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