By National Secular Society
New guidance published by NHS England will require hospitals in England to consider the needs of non-religious patients by ensuring they have access to appropriate pastoral care.
The National Secular Society has cautiously welcomed the new guidance, after previously criticising an earlier draft for failing to adequately recognise the needs of patients who do not identify with a religious faith. The NSS has longstanding concerns about the inappropriate and unsustainable nature of faith-based chaplaincy in the NHS.
The report, Promoting Excellence in Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care, sets out to “respond to changes in the NHS, society and the widening understanding of spiritual, religious and pastoral care.”
The guidance states that “it is important to note that people who do not hold a particular religious affiliation may still require pastoral support in times of crisis” and defines chaplaincy as “intended to also refer to non-religious pastoral and spiritual care providers who provide care to patients, family and staff”.
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