Bradford Teaching Hospitals unveils new Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care Team

For the first time in the NHS’s history a leading hospital trust has appointed a Humanist Chaplain and Muslim Imam to redesign its chaplaincy service to deliver inclusive, spiritual and pastoral care to its patients.


Traditionally these guidelines would have been set by Anglican chaplains, who make up the majority of the UK Board of Health Care Chaplains. Bradford Teaching Hospitals cares for a rich and diverse patient population, and the Trust’s Board felt the revamped service should be put together in a new way.


Head of the new Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care (SPaRC) team Muslim Imam, Mohammed Arshad lead the revamp of the Trust’s Chaplaincy Service alongside Humanist (non-religious) Chaplain, Joanna Mutlow and the patient experience team.


SPaRC offers a service to anyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or belief while a patient or an employee in one of the Trust’s family of hospitals – Bradford Royal Infirmary, St. Luke’s Hospital and the three community hospitals of Eccleshill, Westwood Park and Westbourne Green.


Arshad explained that the new cross-belief (multi-faith) Bradford SPaRC Model is a ground-breaking strategy.


He said “Here in Bradford we consider all beliefs and world views to be valued equally and as a team we want to provide an equal service to patients and NHS colleagues alike.


“The Bradford Model proposes a new and refreshing cross-belief model for Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care (SPaRC), historically known as Chaplaincy, that is rooted in the reality of demographic trends and a firm commitment to equality. It puts to bed the commonly held view that you can only call the chaplain when there is a death, to embracing instead the concept of a more proactive, integrated and holistic role. The position of chaplain has been renamed as the SPaRC (Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care) Practitioner in our new guidelines.”


The SPaRC team sits within the Trust’s patient experience department and represents all main religions in Bradford, as well as those with Humanist beliefs. They will provide a listening ear and solace at challenging times.


Joanna added: “Bradford is doing something new and bold in recognising modern day society where a significant patient and staff population is from South Asian heritage, encompassing the religions of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh and a large population identifies as having no religion.


“The Bradford Model is not about taking the religion out, but about adding other world views in and broadening the appeal and relevance of the service to all.”


Chief Nurse, Karen Dawber, stated: “The Board of Directors really embrace the work that has been done to create an inclusive and integrated pastoral service here at the Trust.


“The new SPaRC team will deliver a unique approach in providing an inclusive hospital service to meet the pastoral, spiritual and religious needs of all of our patients and colleagues.


“It will represent the modern face of Bradford today to the rest of the NHS and provide a beacon of excellent practice as well as our deep commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.


“SPaRC is an inclusive and integrated service that has equality and person-centred care at its heart. Religion is still part of the service, of course, for those who want or need it, but experience tells us that the majority of the work of the SPaRC team will simply be to provide holistic care to patients and colleagues in their hour of need.”