BY ANABEL INGE
THE HEALTH Secretary has welcomed the publication of two guides on caring for the Catholic patient, together with the launch of an online resource for Catholics in the healthcare profession, saying that they support the ethos of the NHS and provide a greater understanding of the work of Catholic hospital chaplains.
Patricia Hewitt said: "I am pleased that your work supports and fits with the ethos that the NHS provides a service that is responsive, personal to all and one that puts patients' needs at its centre. I read with interest the publications which provide greater understanding of the role of not only Catholic chaplains but also hospital chaplaincy, in providing spiritual care for both patients and staff."
The resources were launched by Catholics in Healthcare. a Vatican-approved voluntary group of Catholics in healthcare backed by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and seeking to witness to the Catholic approach to healthcare. The first two in a series of publications. entitled Caring for the Catholic Patient, which were launched on Tuesday, seek to educate healthcare practitioners in meeting the pastoral needs of Catholic patients and to provide NHS managers and Trusts with a greater understanding of the role of Catholic chaplaincies.
In addition, the website www.catholicsinhealthcare.org. uk aims to support Catholics in the healthcare profession by, for example, providing links to information on the Church's teaching on key ethical issues in medicine.
Andrew Lansley, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, also backed the initiative. "People admitted to hospital are often at their most vulnerable," he said. "At such a time, it is important to consider their spiritual and pastoral needs. MIS staff are well-trained to integrate such considerations into their care pathway, and these publications will help them achieve that in respect to the particular needs of Catholic patients."
Auxiliary Bishop Tom Williams of Liverpool, chairman of the Catholics in Healthcare Reference Group, said that in launching the initiative the Catholics in Healthcare network is not necessarily hying to squeeze more funds out of the NHS for Catholic chaplaincies, but rather is seeking proportional spending across the denorinaticas according to the dnands of patients. "We're not tying a a Church to say the NIS should pay for Catholic cholainc!," he said.
He stressed the irportarm of putting pressuron NIS Trusts to inform hogtal cha?tains about a patiet's faih. "We've got to say tolusts `tie onus is on you to clei patiets properly, and, whepatierts are clerked proper, then oa serve the needs of tbpatieriand part of that is TIT faith.
"In the olden days vhen te patient's name was athe bak of the bed, the chapin coud tell what religion thewere the colour of the can,. nowadays you can't do thao it's p to the Trust to informe chatlains of what patientsre goi:g in. All we're sayiniis if te Trust has a budget:r char laincy, we want a preortiord element of that. It's .sy unf4r if you go into a Tra wile= 50 per cent of the pents ar Catholic, 60 per cit of tl staff are Catholic,ad how employ an Anglicaraplaie At the momen:i3ishci Williams said,"in set Tins it's a struggle, in otir Trus it's fair. So this dement s simply trying tegive s common ground thaie Tn.z can start from, and ray thatf you are sorting out §lainq. engage the local bisb in p8 of that because h got contribution. So ware e looking for funds , looking for money, st we' looking for is a faireistriba non of that in terms'what being done."