Hospital chaplains are welcoming an identity card scheme for Catholic hospital patients, which is being introduced by the Association of Catholic Women. Under new EU human rights regulations which are beginning to enforce the 1998 Data Protection Act, hospital chaplains in the UK are no longer allowed to ask the religion of patients. This has serious implications for people going into hospital, particularly those who may not be regular church attenders, people unable to speak, or those have been sent for treatment to a hospital far from their parish community. The new laminated card states: 'Identification as a Roman Catholic. In case of admission to hospital, please contact a Roman Catholic priest. I would like my nursing care to include fluids - however administered.' Fr Peter Scott, the hospital chaplaincy co-ordinator for Westminster told ICN he welcomed the first sentence in the the card, although he said he could not comment on the second statement. He said: "This is an excellent initiative from the Association of Catholic Women. Parishes and church communities also need to respond to this new legislation. The bishops are still examining these new rulings." Fr Peter said that the Diocese of Westminster is planning to issue parishes with a poster giving details of all local hospital chaplains. He said: "I would hope that one aspect of the At Your Word programme of formation for parish communities in Westminster would mean that at the end of the three years, some of those who have taken part would feel confident enough to go hospitals - evangelising in a sensitive and non-threatening way." The cards are available for one second -class stamp plus a stamped addressed envelope. For more details contact ACW, 22 Surbiton Hill, Surbiton KT5; or call: ACW at: 0208 399 5845.
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