1st Edition

Hospital Chaplaincy in the Twenty-first Century
The Crisis of Spiritual Care on the NHS

ISBN 9780754664161
Published April 28, 2009 by Routledge
212 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Issues of faith and spirituality have been resurgent in the UK since the opening of the twenty-first century. This book charts the impact of shifting attitudes towards spirituality through the experiences of health care chaplains. Rooted in a new and challenging interpretation of the chaplain's work in the past, the book moves on to describe a current crisis in the nature of spiritual care. Using the tools of practical theology to analyze these experiences, fundamental problems are identified for chaplains as they work within the culture of 'evidence based practice'. As the National Health Service struggles to balance its books in the face of national economic uncertainty, chaplains will continue to come under increasing levels of scrutiny. Some chaplains have faced the prospect of redundancy or cuts to their budgets, while a growing number of NHS Trusts no longer offer chaplaincy to patients out of hours. In this context the nature of chaplaincy itself has come into question, and rival models of the profession have emerged. Is chaplaincy a new and distinct profession within health care, based on evidence and available to all? Or is it State-funded religious activity, theoretically open to all but in practice utilized chiefly by the faithful few? In responding to these questions the book concludes with a vision of how chaplaincy can both maintain its integrity - and be a valued part of twenty-first century health care.



The Revd Dr Christopher Swift is from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, UK. He has been a Health Care Chaplain since 1994 and Head of Chaplaincy at Leeds Teaching Hospitals since 2001. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Spirituality, Religion and Public Life at Leeds Metropolitan University and a past President of the College of Health Care Chaplains (2004-7).


Health care chaplaincy is currently undergoing a rapid transformation. An inherited and accepted service, embedded in the National Health Service since its inception, it is inevitably caught up in the changes that affect both the service as a whole and the wider social context. This invaluable book will stand the test of time. Health care professionals will find it a constant point of reference as they wrestle with the issues both locally and nationally. Many others will find this book a way of being informed about a key area of health care. Most importantly, there is a challenge here to the churches to take chaplaincy seriously as the frontier ministry it is. For practical theologians this is a welcome and accessible study of a vital sector of ministry, useful for reflection and teaching. Paul Ballard, Cardiff University, UK ’Spiritual care on the NHS has been in the news a great deal in recent times, from the forced demise of the chaplaincy team at Worcester to the more recent calls from the Secular Society to cease NHS funding for chaplains. In addition, those of us serving in this capacity are working through important issues related to whether we are primarily authorised and commissioned to our 'faith communities', or a new and distinct profession in health care. In this book, Chris Swift, an experienced head of chaplaincy services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, seeks to respond to these challenges and dilemmas, and sets forth some interesting ideas of how NHS chaplaincy might move forward with integrity and a growing confidence. ... I recommend this book warmly. May it be used to encourage and inspire those of us serving in the marginal space that is health-care chaplaincy, and to challenge our faith communities to understand and appreciate better our work, and learn lessons for its ministry and mission in Britain today.’ Church Times ’Hospital Chaplains may be 'at the forefront of the mission of the church', says the Archbishop of Canterbury, but acco