Positive Healthcare Faith Chaplaincy in Action

Chaplaincy within the realm of healthcare should be understood as a prerequisite of health institutions, considering the nature of their work. Faith sensitive, inclusive and diverse chaplains within healthcare institutions is of prime importance.

Our National Health Service caters for diverse communities, upholding provisions of inclusivity within its chaplain services. The NHS has formulated guidelines and an analysis of chaplaincy in all its institutions. This framework promotes excellence in pastoral, religious and spiritual care for all those using such service.

To further this,  the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy’s (UKBHC) register has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care; an independent statutory body, accountable to Parliament.

Derek Fraser, UKBHC Chair said:

“This is a landmark in the development of healthcare chaplaincy in the UK. It is exciting to arrive here in 2017, after a lengthy journey to enable chaplaincy to be more fully equipped for the challenges ahead. We are delighted to have reached this point and are grateful for our many colleagues who have supported the process of being accepted by the Professional Standards Authority as holding an accredited register for healthcare chaplaincy.

The quality mark will give extra peace of mind for anyone cared for by, or employing a healthcare chaplain, letting them know that anyone who holds the mark is committed to high standards of practice. UKBHC is pleased to offer the quality mark to healthcare chaplains that meet the far reaching standards of our register, as approved by the Professional Standards Authority.”

Moreover, the Network for Pastoral, Spiritual & Religious Care in Health (NPSRCH), formerly the Healthcare Chaplaincy Faith & Belief Group, works to promote and support religious, spiritual and pastoral care in the NHS in England.

They work to facilitate a common understanding of and support for chaplaincy amongst faith and belief communities, chaplaincy bodies and other providers of religious, spiritual and pastoral care. They also work to help users of chaplaincy services to understand the nature of this care.

An example of the positive outcomes of faith chaplaincy in action is that of the Post Mortem Computed Tomography. This innovative non invasive autopsy service was pioneered in Leicester and funded by local authorities.  

The Muslim Burial Council MBCOL reports:

Traditional post mortem examinations are being replaced with less intrusive alternatives, such as using a specialised x-ray technique known as Post Mortem Computed Tomography (PMCT). This pioneering approach has been introduced in response to the wishes of the community and has been running at the Leicester Royal Infirmary since 2015, but until now has required independent funding from families. This new system will no longer require funding from families.

From Wednesday 1 November 2017, if post-mortem investigation is required by HM Senior Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire to establish the cause of death, pathologists will determine what approach is required and the least invasive approach, including using PMCT instead of post mortem will be taken whenever possible. Where there are important questions that PMCT cannot answer, a traditional post mortem will still need to be performed.

This new system will no longer require independent funding from families for PCMT but will instead be funded entirely by the Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire.

This breakthrough has been made possible after a long period of planning by HM Senior Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, Leicester City Council representatives and the radiology and pathology management teams. They have managed to develop this service within the constraints of public funding and without impact on our on-going clinical services.

The PMCT service has been developed after 15 years of research conducted by Professor Guy Rutty MBE, Chief Forensic Pathologist for University of Leicester, Professor Bruno Morgan, Cancer Imaging and Radiology at Leicester’s Hospitals and the University of Leicester, and Claire Robinson, Lead Forensic Radiographer for Leicester’s Hospitals.

In conjunction with University of Leicester, the mortuary, radiology and pathology teams at Leicester’s Hospitals have developed techniques that have shown that PMCT can replace or enhance the traditional post mortem in many circumstances.

Professor Morgan, said: “We are extremely grateful to all team members for making this service possible. Despite being very busy in their everyday jobs, they have all made compromises to deliver this service for the public of Leicester City and South Leicestershire.”

Establishing this service would not have been possible without the pioneering work of Professor Guy Rutty and support of the wider management teams and the Trust board at Leicester’s Hospitals. Cathy Lea, General Manager Radiology at Leicester’s Hospital, said: “This is an exciting development in post mortem investigation. We are delighted to be able to offer this new NHS service for the Leicester community.”

HM Senior Coroner, Mrs Mason supported this new service saying it is welcomed by her office as they continue to put families’ needs at the heart of their work. As well as religious groups that may find invasive post mortem examinations to be in direct challenge to their faith, there are benefits to society more broadly.

The Coroner for Leicester City and South Leicestershire, Mrs Catherine Mason, announced changes in post mortem procedure yesterday to less intrusive alternatives such as virtual autopsy, more commonly known as MRI/ CT scanning.

The diverse communities of our city have welcomed this change, which demonstrates close working relationships with the community, statutory authorities and other stakeholders.

MBCOL would like to express its sincere thanks and gratitude to the University of Leicester, Proffessor Guy Rutty, Professor Bruno Morgan and most importantly our Coroner, Mrs Mason, and her staff for this significant development in the provision of a funded imaging system for Leicester’s various faith and non-faith communities.

Suleman Nagdi, Chair of MBCOL said, “This commitment is welcome indeed.  We also believe that in doing so much of the anxieties felt by loved ones will be eliminated. We have all been working very hard to reach this momentous moment”

Vinod Popat of the Shantidham Project and  Resham Singh Sandhu, Chair of the Leicester Faith Forum and Leicester Sikh Welfare & Cultural Society have also endorsed this.

Mrs Mason and her colleagues are to be applauded for all their hard work and determination in delivering this new service. We hope that other jurisdictions will follow in this good practice in other parts of the country.

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