Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Memorandum by College of Health Care Chaplains (PC 63)


  The College of Healthcare Chaplains is the Professional Body for Healthcare Chaplains and Spiritual caregivers throughout the United Kingdom. The College has a membership of more than 1,000. It is multi-faith, holds the professional register of Chaplains and has recently published a revised version of the Code of Conduct for Chaplains.


  1.  The College endorses and supports the memorandum submitted to the enquiry by the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains.

  2.  In addition to the comments made by the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains the College of Healthcare Chaplains make the following observations.

  3.  Although many members of the College are involved in areas of hospice care, for example, in designated units, almost all College members are involved in the delivery of Palliative Care in the acute setting. The involvement of chaplaincy teams in "Care pathways for the patient during the last days of life" [the term varies in different areas] is an essential method of providing for the spiritual needs of the dying patient in the acute setting.

  4.  A number of specific issues need to be resolved in ensuring the delivery of spiritual care within the acute setting. Existing difficulties which flow from the ongoing ambiguous understanding of chaplains' access to patient data need to be resolved.

  5.  The inconsistency of a Palliative Care Team in the acute setting including individual chaplains and at the same time apparently not being able to provide the chaplain member of the team with patient data needs urgent resolution.

  6.  In the provision of Palliative Care the need to address the spiritual concerns of patients is very important. While the distinction between, and interface of spiritual and religious needs is an important element in the appropriate provision of Palliative Care, neither of these should be seen as the same as cultural needs.

  7.  Cultural needs of the dying may or may not be directly linked to the patient's religion and, or, spirituality, but might also be linked to neither. Cultural needs vary as much within one religious group [eg Christian] as they do between different religions.

  8.  The College wishes especially to endorse the view of the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care chaplains that education and training need to be supported as the key to the delivery of spiritual care to those with non-curative conditions and to dying patients.

February 2004

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