Chaplain role is axed by health trust

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A LONG-serving chaplain at a hospital has been made redundant.

Lance Blake had been the chaplain at St James’ Hospital, in Locksway Road, Milton, since 1997.

Solent NHS Trust – which runs services inside the community hospital – decided to change the way it provides religious services to patients.

A trust spokesman said: ‘The trust employs thousands of people and provides services to millions others annually.

‘As such, it is natural to expect people in contact with our organisation have got divergent spiritual, religious and other related needs.

‘To cater for this diversity, we have in place a spirituality strategy, which signposts staff and patients to appropriate providers for their spiritual needs.

‘In recognition of this diversity of needs, a decision was made to discontinue the services of a chaplain working within our adult services.

‘We want to enable staff and patients to access appropriate community-based services.

‘Therefore, the only change is we no longer directly employ a chaplain.

The trust said the chaplain was made redundant in order to bring in more community services.

The spokesman added: ‘Working with our community development worker service, we are also looking at how our adult mental health services continue to meet the spiritual needs of our patients.

‘The service has, for instance, engaged local religious leaders to come into the wards.

‘In general, we aim to ensure people do not lose vital links with their community religious services and encourage people to maintain their existing links with their usual religious centres.’

The chaplaincy was also enjoyed by people outside the hospital.

In a letter to The News, Brian Banks, of Cosham, wrote: ‘Pastoral support is essential to people being managed and treated for psychiatric and mental illnesses.

‘Please managers, consider the needs of those who make your employment possible.’