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Chaplaincy services cost NHS £32m a year

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Chaplaincy services in NHS hospitals cost more than £32 million a year - which it says could be better spent elsewhere

According to the National Secular Society (NSS), figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows NHS trusts spent £26.72 million a year on paying clergy staff for religious services for patients, with an average spend per chaplain of £48,953.

The NSS said the money could be used to pay for 1,300 more nurses or 2,500 cleaning staff, both of which were ‘much needed’.

Terry Sanderson, president of the NSS, said: ‘The headline figure only takes into account the salaries of the chaplains, it does not take account of national insurance contributions, pension payments, administration costs, office accommodation, training, the upkeep of chapels and prayer rooms.’

Mr Sanderson said patients who need religious support should contact religious representatives in their area instead of relying on the NHS to provide the service.

However, a spokesman for the Church of England said: ‘Spiritual healthcare has long been acknowledged, by both medical practitioners and the churches, to be an intrinsic part of caring for people in hospital.

‘NHS trusts pay for chaplaincies because they see them as part of their duty of care to patients.’

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