Published: 1st July 2009
The British Medical Association's debate today about spiritual care in the NHS was effectively about who should provide that care. The meeting recognised the importance of spiritual care, and supported the General Medical Council rejection of 'inappropriate discussion of faith matters', thereby implicitly endorsing that regulatory body's role as an effective professional check on abuse.
Concerns about hostile disciplinary action against individuals, following the suspension of nurse Caroline Petrie, and calls 'on Health Departments to allow appropriate consensual discussion of spiritual matters within the NHS, when done with respect for the views and sensitivities of individuals' were not passed.
Former GP and CMF Head of Communications Dr Andrew Fergusson said, 'In England the Department of Health argues that chaplaincy teams alone should deliver such care, and frontline professionals should simply refer, but that policy ignores the reality of consultations. Within a patient-professional relationship of mutual trust, a patient occasionally invites a doctor into their private place and wants discussion and perhaps, exceptionally, prayer there and then; not another box ticked and another form filled.'
He continued, 'around the UK, hospital and community chaplains are doing an ever more excellent job, but cannot be at hand for every short-lived but vital opportunity. Doctors and nurses cannot leave themselves at the door when they are invited into such times of trust.' He concluded, 'chairman Dr Peter Bennie was wise to remind the meeting that if they did not pass a motion, it did not mean that the opposite held. Spiritual matters still belong at the frontline of healthcare.'
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.