Welcome to the Buddhist Council of Wales site. Here you will find details of events, information and news relating to the organisations which are members of the Council and also to other Buddhist organisations – a resource for all Buddhists in Wales.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

NHS Chaplains

The National Secular Society (NSS) are opposing the need for Hospital Chaplains in the NHS.  The following extracts are from an article on Hospital Chaplains which can be read in full here and you can also sign an e-petition in support for NHS Chaplaincy services here.

"[hospital chaplains] spend only a minority of their time with people of explicit religious affiliation. Much more time is spent on people of no explicit religious belief, but whose illness has brought them to a place of uncertainty, anxiety, and questioning, and who ask the chaplain to accompany them through that experience. [Chaplains] don’t proselytise (it’s against their code of conduct), and are bound by their professional standards to be open, accepting and non-judgemental to those who ask for their help. [Chaplains] are likely to have well developed skills in secular ethics, philosophy, sociology and many other disciplines, and also often have a profound body of experience to draw on. Almost uniquely in the contemporary NHS, chaplains organise their time so as to give their patients the attention they need, rather than working strictly to timed appointments. 

[Secularists] tend to argue simply that chaplaincy should be taken out of NHS hands altogether and, in effect, privatised by handing it over to religious organisations. [This] would make chaplaincy more narrowly religious, less helpful to patients, and virtually useless to NHS professionals and the institutions in which they work. A chaplain employed by a Church would see only patients who were members of that Church; a chaplain employed by the NHS is available for anyone. A chaplain employed by a Church would have no commitment or loyalty to the hospital they worked in. An NHS chaplain not only has that commitment and loyalty, but has an often explicit remit to help guide and challenge the institution when needed. The chaplain is also one of a usually small group of professionals whose role is to resist the tendency of modern technological biomedicine to see sick people merely as broken-down machines, and  who try to affirm and promote the human values of good healthcare."


  1. As a former Chairman of the Buddhist Council of Wales I was rather shocked by this article's inaccuracy. The Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign Wales (which is not a campaign of the NSS but is however supported by some of their members) does not contest the need for hospital chaplains; It does not advocate removing or "privatising" or "handing over to religious organisations" the hospital chaplaincy. It will be unchanged if the putative charity can raise the necessary funds.

    The campaign argues for continued NHS Wales employment of chaplains (mainly so that the responsibility of CRB checking and financial and employment discipline remains with the relevant Health Trust). It only asks that organised religion sets up a charitable trust to reimburse the cost to the NHS thus freeing much needed funds to be spent on front line medical care. In fact it does not propose any changes to chaplaincy other than its funding. What's wrong with that? If the Wales Air Ambulance can do it why not chaplaincy?

    You can read the aims of the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign here: http://secularwales.wordpress.com/charitable-chaplaincy-cymru-2/

    We are used to the religious establishment misrepresenting our case but it is sad to me as a former chairman of the Buddhist Council of Wales and wholehearted supporter of the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign to see you being a party to something that so grotesquely misrepresents a worthy cause.

    Brian Pearce

    1. The Buddhist Council of Wales exists to represent Buddhism at government level and at civic events. Chaplaincy is a topic that is currently being discussed at the Welsh Assembly Government Faith Communities Forum to which the Buddhist Council of Wales sends representatives. In order to be able to speak for Buddhists in Wales it is important that current issues are presented to Buddhists in Wales. This is one of the purposes of the Buddhist Council of Wales blog. Items are presented in good faith as received, in order to offer Buddhist individuals and organisations in Wales the opportunity to enter the debate. Thank you Brian for presenting an alternative view on this important issue and providing Buddhist in Wales the means to more fully explore the issue of chaplaincy.
      Nor'dzin Pamo (current Chair, BCW)