Fury over NHS chaplaincy cash

PUBLISHED: 16:24 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:06 12 August 2010

SECULARISTS have hit out after it was revealed the NHS spent £32million of taxpayer s money on chaplaincy services. Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust (BHT)

SECULARISTS have hit out after it was revealed the NHS spent £32million of taxpayer's money on chaplaincy services.

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust (BHT) uses £106,081 of their budget on clergy, including paying for an organist, while neighbouring Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, spends £54,000.

South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental healthcare to people in Bromley, Bexley and five other boroughs spends £300,000 while Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust, Woolwich forks out £117,000.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the National Secular Society who claim the money would have been better spent on clinical and cleaning staff.

President of the NSS, Terry Sanderson, said: "The average cost to the Health Service of a chaplain is £57,000 per annum. I'm sure if patients were asked where they wanted their money spent, two and a half nurses or more than four cleaners rather than one cleric, it is clear that nearly all would opt for the nursing or cleaning staff."

Bromley health campaigner Julie Mott said: "It seems an extremely high annual cost to pay for a hospital chaplain if this is what the figure relates to. I always thought that it was the responsibility of the churches to give pastoral support to their worshippers, naive of me obviously."

But hospital bosses defended paying for 'important' chaplain services. A spokesperson for SLaM, said: "Our multi-faith chaplains provide a range of services to our diverse community. Not only do our chaplains provide services to patients, they also support staff and carers.

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