New initiative offers support to Catholic healthworkers and patients

 A range of resources has been launched this week to support Catholic staff and patients in healthcare. A series of practical publications and a new website:, offer guidelines for healthworkers and NHS managers & trusts under the banner: Caring for the Catholic Patient. Both have received support from the Secretary of State for Health and the Shadow Secretary for Health. Catholics in Healthcare, backed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales, is a voluntary group of Catholics in healthcare who come together to help witness to the Catholic approach to healthcare. The starting point for their work comes from the Church's teaching that Catholics working in healthcare or social care are an important part of Christ's healing ministry and mission. Bishop Tom Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool and Chair of the Catholics in Healthcare Reference Group said: "The Church has a hugely important role in healthcare. We are not trying to teach the healthcare system what to do, nor are we looking for a privileged position. We are trying to show that Catholics have a natural affinity with healthcare, and make a strong and supportive contribution as we continue to work in collaboration with the healthcare system. "In a healthcare system which (however well-intentioned) risks turning patients into units of care, while making the body an instrument to be treated, the Church witnesses to something more. We witness to the dignity of the whole person, loved and created by God as a spiritual and emotional, not just physical, being. "This initiative is also about galvanising Catholics who work in healthcare, promoting our vision of care for the whole person and sharing in Christ's healing ministry." Almost 10% of the population of England and Wales is Catholic and demographic changes resulting from immigration means the Catholic population is changing and growing. Catholics in Healthcare, by working effectively with the NHS, is aiming to ensure these publications, the website and future activity will benefit all those who offer and receive healthcare in this country. Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health said: "I am pleased that your work supports and fits with the ethos that the NHS provides a service that is responsive, personal to all and one that puts patients' needs at its centre. "I read with interest the publications which provide a greater understanding of the role of not only Catholic chaplains but also hospital chaplaincy, in providing spiritual care for both patients and staff." Andrew Lansley, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, said: "People admitted to hospital are often at their most vulnerable. At such a time, it is important to consider their spiritual and pastoral needs. NHS staff are well trained to integrate such considerations into their care pathway, and these publications will help them achieve that in respect to the particular needs of Catholic patients." Over the next year there will be a series of regional events to support healthworkers and distribute the publications across the country, along with other seminars and events leading to a major healthcare conference in 2008. Source: CCN

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