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Hospital chaplaincy services are not only for religious patients

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 06 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1403
  1. Mark Newitt, hospital chaplain, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  1. mark.newitt{at}

    At the age of 25 Adrian Sudbury, a local newspaper journalist, was given a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia. I first met Adrian in early 2007 in my role as a hospital chaplain and worked with him over the next 18 months, ending up helping him plan his funeral and memorial service. Many of the particulars of my work with Adrian related to wider themes about the role and value of chaplaincy in the NHS. Adrian was not religious, yet he was certain that chaplaincy interventions greatly contributed to his wellbeing. His case typifies a new generation of patients who require a shift in knowledge, skills, and practice by all those involved in the holistic care of patients.

    In the early months of Adrian’s chemotherapy we met on several occasions for general conversation. When I visited in May 2007 he told me he was now in hospital for a stem cell transplantation, and I spent time listening to Adrian express mixed emotions about the transplantation. He was glad there was a donor but was concerned about being in isolation and was, unsurprisingly, worried about the unknown outcome and future. During Adrian’s five weeks in isolation I visited him nine times. When Adrian was feeling the effects of the treatment, …

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