Bishop of St Albans stresses need for spiritual care for those with medically unexplained symptoms


On 4th July 2017 the Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty’s Government “who is responsible for ensuring the implementation by Clinical Commissioning Groups and hospital providers of the Guidance for commissioners of services for people with medically unexplained symptoms, published by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many of us are glad to have this report published by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health on services for people with medically unexplained symptoms. There is a welcome stress in it on trying to get integrated care—a both physical and mental approach. Would the Minister comment on the need to have an integrated approach to the spiritual dimension of this as an essential aspect of addressing these medically unexplained symptoms? Continue reading

Bishop of Durham highlights the importance of chaplaincy and a whole person approach to end of life care


durham-230117On 14th March 2017, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff led a short debate on the question of ‘how the Government intends to ensure that Clinical Commissioners respect the undertakings made in Our Commitments to You for End of Life Care: The Government Response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care’. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler spoke in the debate, paying tribute to the importance of chaplaincy to end of life care.

The Lord Bishop of Durham My Lords:

“The medical side of a patient’s health is not always the key to treating them”.

So said a medical student recently, describing what he had learned from a leading end-of-life care specialist at St Benedict’s Hospice and Centre in Sunderland. Another medical student said:

“Palliative care is not just end-of-life care. It is a very holistic approach which supports the patients’ needs very well”. Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds praises “heroic” work of NHS staff in Lords health debate


On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Turnberg “that this House takes note of the ability of the National Health Service to meet present and future demands.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate.

BpLeeds2The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. Much of what I was going to say has been said and I do not intend to repeat it. I have surveyed some of the National Health Service foundation trusts in my diocese and there are common threads, both of opportunity and concern: financial, operational and clinical. Yet it ought to be said that some of the administrations of these health services are doing heroic work at a time of enormous complexity and constraint. Again, as has been said about the need to raise morale among staff, we should at least thank and congratulate those who are making the system work despite the challenges. Continue reading

Bishop of Carlisle praises work of chaplains and volunteers in end of life care


On 22nd October 2015 Lord Farmer asked Her Majesty’s Government, “in the light of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report Dying Without Dignity, what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to good palliative care and a level of social care that ensures the end of life is valued.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke in the debate, praising the work of chaplains and volunteers in delivering end of life care. The Bishop of Rochester also spoke in the debate. 

Carlisle Moses RoomThe Lord Bishop of Carlisle:  My Lords, today’s debate, for which I am also most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, has prompted me to take a fresh look at some of the numerous documents on palliative care that have been produced over the past two years, including of course the ombudsman’s report, Dying Without Dignity. As I read the documents, I was struck and impressed by their general agreement that palliative care at the end of life involves more than simply the relief of physical pain, crucial though of course that is. Suffering is not always the same as pain and it is often more difficult to ease, which is why the word “holistic” is often used to describe the kind of care that is needed. I cite as an example the NICE quality standard which is regarded by NHS England as,

“a comprehensive picture of what high quality end of life care should look like”.

In particular, as we have been reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, reference is made to spiritual and religious support not only for patients but for relatives, carers and staff. Such support is an essential element in end of life care. Continue reading