NHS advertises for ‘Faith & Spirituality Coordinators’
‘Spiritual’ people are in: multi-faith, new-age, karmic, tree-hugging, crystal-gazing, divinity-worshipping-in-a-Buddhist-kind-of-way.
Against a backdrop of NHS cut-backs with threats of the decimation of front-line services, Cranmer has received a most interesting missive from a reader about this vacancy within the NHS. She writes:
‘I have been a silent reader and appreciator of your blog for several months.
‘I wanted to draw your attention to a job advert I have just come across which has really astounded me. I receive the NHS jobs bulletin by email every day – as my current job (in the mental health sector) is under threat due to NHS funding cuts. I was amazed to see an advertisement for a job Faith and Spirituality Trustwide Coordinator – which carries a salary of £29k-£39k (far more than I can ever hope to receive). Upon reading the job description I was even more amazed, and my first reaction was why is the NHS pouring funds into an area of work which is rightly that of the church, the mosque, the synagogue etc? Their job is to treat people who are physically or mentally ill – not to provide “spiritual services”. Upon reading the lengthy job description I found I could not find anything concrete in what the post holder is actually supposed to do to “carry forward our spiritual support agenda” and “Faith and Spirituality Action Plan”. Indeed, it has been made clear within the NHS that it is not the job of employees to pray for the patients, or to manifest any personal adherence to a faith e.g. by wearing a cross. So it seems paradoxical that there is a whole department (under the Equalities and Diversity Team and Faith and Spirituality Implementation Group) which is meant to supply “faith support”, “spiritual support” and “faith visitor provision” to service users (i.e. patients).
‘I also had a look at the NHS Faith and Spirituality Action Plan as it is implemented in the various NHS trusts – and realise that virtually all trusts are devoting large sums of money, staff and resources into a spiritual support bureaucracy – which as ever must be multi-faith, multi-ethnic, non-specific, covering all religions and none. The reasoning behind all this they say is a growing awareness of the importance spirituality can play in a patient’s recovery. Fair enough. By this logic we would need spirituality action plans in all government departments as faith permeates all areas of life, and is as important in prevention of illness as in recovery.
‘But we are increasingly taught to separate our personal beliefs from our work. I do not now wear my cross to work for fear of offending someone and in order to keep separate my faith from the practice of my work. I am exceedingly careful in what I say – not to ever be judgmental, and not to bring up issues relating to faith unless it comes from the client. I work with people with mental health problems who are in crisis – some are suicidal – many self harm. For almost all, issues of what life is for and its meaning are pertinent. The most I can do is pray for them silently, which I do (but would not dare admit to).
‘So what is this spiritual support the NHS is spending so much money on – and while so many vital areas are being subject to cuts? (If you google NHS Faith and Spirituality Action Plan you will find many of the action plans of the different NHS regions - some 3000+ hits - and they make for interesting reading!). It cannot mean displaying any overt religious adherence, or praying with or for people - this is taboo. It cannot mean discussing with them the possibility that there is a God up there who cares about us. It cannot mean sharing a belief in the afterlife, and a belief that life has a fundamental purpose and meaning. It must then just mean basic human compassion, empathy, sensitivity and understanding, which is what people in all the caring professions should be displaying anyway. Do we need whole departments and posts to deliver this? Is this not what doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers should be doing anyway? And can compassion really be taught?’
Ah, the voice of common sense to which Labour are oblivious, and the questions of perfect reason to which Labour are impervious.
You see, according to the Gospel of the NHS, it is no longer Jesus who heals, but Gaia. It is not faith in the Risen Christ which brings inner peace, but intoning ‘aum’ while sitting in the lotus position and breathing in the incense. Taxpayers now fund this New Age Shaman-Hinduism which is not new at all, and anyone who dares to contend against this ancient-new spiritual orthodoxy is anathematised, ridiculed, suspended or sacked. Jesus is a loser: Buddha is cool.
Welcome to the god of the NHS, whose doctrine one may expound, and on whose behalf one may proselytise.
But, for God's sake, don't mention Jesus.