Hospitals betray their history by banishing prayer
It is ironic that the country which fostered the Christian tradition of nursing chose to suspend a nurse who wished to pray for her patient, says Bishop Nazir-Ali.
This is part of an essay from the Telegraph, from which the below is excerpted:
Indeed, in the NHS itself spiritual care is widely recognised as part of caring for the whole person. More and more evidence is available that spiritual beliefs and prayers have a positive effect on patients and their sense of well-being. Chaplains and others are employed to deliver appropriate care to staff, relatives and patients. This is especially so at times of bereavement or of a local or national emergency but it is not, of course, limited to such occasions.
It may be, however, that political correctness is restricting even the role of chaplains and of the volunteers who work with them. It is no longer enough, it seems, for the chaplain to be able to visit people who have declared their faith on admission. The chaplain may not be allowed access to such data on confidentiality grounds (in which case why gather it in the first place?) and patients may actively have to request the services of a chaplain or volunteer before they can have access to them. Why cannot consent for access by Chaplains, for example, be taken at the same time as information about religious allegiance?
The arrival of people of other faiths provided chaplains with an opportunity for Christian hospitality in making sure that such people had access to a spiritual leader from their own tradition and had their spiritual needs met. This has now mutated into the closure of chapels, the retrenchment of a distinctively Christian chaplaincy and the advent of a doctrinaire multi-faithism. Let me say immediately that this has little do with people of other faiths who have no objection to chapels and chaplains, as long as their own needs are met, and everything to do with secularist agendas which marginalise all faith but seem especially hostile to Christianity. There is no reason at all why a Christian chapel and chaplaincy cannot be retained, while also providing adequately, and with dignity, for the needs of others.
The long withdrawing roar of the sea of faith seems to be getting louder: nurses cannot pray, the Creed cannot be recited at Christian services for fear of offending non-believers, Christian marriage counsellors are removed because they believe in Christian marriage and Christian adoption agencies cannot be publicly funded because they believe that children are best brought up in a family with a mother and father to look after them.
It seems certain that no other faith would be subjected to such strictures and, indeed, to the benign neglect to which the churches have become accustomed. A place for Christians in the public square must be reclaimed. We should be able to contribute to public discussion about the beginnings of life and its end, the structure of the family, the building of community, justice for the poor, company for the lonely and, especially, the care of the sick, the dying and the bereaved and a host of other issues.
It is time for a movement of Christians that will put the Christian case vigorously in public debate, that will remind the nation of its Christian heritage, that will make a difference where there is human need and, yes, that will commit itself to prayer in schools, hospitals, prisons, workplaces, Parliament and the streets so that people may experience again the blessing of God on this country.