A literature review exploring the integration of minority faiths and beliefs within NHS hospital chaplaincy.

Paul Hurst
Publication Date
01st Nov 2020
MA in Existential and Humanist Pastoral Care


Aims of the research

This dissertation aims to explore the integration of minority faiths and beliefs within NHS hospital Chaplaincy. Revised guidelines in 2015 confirmed the right of all patients, relatives and staff members to receive appropriate pastoral, spiritual and pastoral care. There is an increasing divergence between the British public and organised religion, while hospital chaplaincy departments are largely staffed by paid and volunteer Christians. This research provides an opportunity to study the extent to which the 2015 guidelines have been implemented.


Conventional and ‘grey’ literature sources were studied in an indicative narrative review, using the researcher’s experience in pastoral care. Potential personal biases in the researcher were identified and noted, along with the steps taken to minimise them. 

Summary of the main findings

There was conflict noted between the historical role of chaplain and that of the hospital PSR carer. A parallel split between the British public and the Church of England was highlighted. At times, the language used within NHS PSR excluded those with a minority worldview, and the structures of chaplaincy departments also present challenges to their integration. In general, departments have not used the opportunity to connect online with those with minority beliefs or faiths. 


Surveys of the British public would enable assessment of their current PSR requirements and allow the formation of a structure to meet these needs most appropriately, probably using the internet to expand and improve the scope of the service provided. The language used within hospital chaplaincy literature requires scrutiny regarding the potential impact directly on service users, and indirectly through the shaping of the care provided. Modern Hospital websites could be used more effectively to communicate with those holding minority worldviews.

Key Words Pastoral care, chaplaincy, integration, nones, non-religious, multi-faith, faith and none