Jewish Chronicle

Fear over Chaplaincy Cuts in NHS

logo Community professionals have expressed deep concern over the impact that reported cuts to chaplaincy provision in NHS hospitals will have on Jewish patients. A survey released this week by public theology thinktank Theos showed that chaplaincy care has been reduced by 54,127 hours a year since 2005. Sue Soloway, administrator of the United Synagogue’s visitation committee, told the JC: “Although the cuts have not impinged on us yet, if they did it would be a very wrong move on the part of the NHS. “People across the board appreciate chaplain visits and if these services are further reduced, it will be a great loss for all faiths.” Senior hospital chaplain and the minister of Bushey and District Synagogue, Rabbi Meir Salasnik, said: “The cuts are worrying but what is more worrying is the issues of data protection. In many hospitals, the chaplains are not able to find out what religion patients are unless specifically asked for by the patients.” Alex Goldberg, community issues director at the Board of Deputies, is a liaison officer at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. He said: “In my experience, there are Jewish people who have not associated with the Jewish community for more than 50 years, but value the support of a chaplain from their faith at times of illness. “It is a real shame that chaplaincy funding is being cut as it forms part of the care provision.” He added: “Even in hospitals where there is not an assigned Jewish chaplain, the chaplaincy staff will provide services for Jewish patients, so cutting the budget will mean our community professionals will have to work harder to reach Jewish patient. It is a sad reflection.” According to the United Synagogue Visitations Committee, there are 50 Jewish chaplains working for the NHS in England and Wales, in addition to 40 voluntary hospital visitors.