The unique role of a chaplain


  • Anne Aldridge Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge



accountability, chaplain, religious, spiritual, NHS


In the current NHS climate of budgets, target setting and accountability, the ‘unique role' of the chaplain can be misunderstood, undervalued. The future of chaplaincy is in the balance! Do chaplains move with the times – accept change and development, work towards professional status or do they maintain the status quo – remain important to the well-being of the whole hospital community but fail to articulate this and risk extinction or at best benign tolerance? More than ever society demands that employees prove their value through research, audit and refining of practice. 21st Century NHS chaplains are part of this! Alongside retaining their distinctive role as those who are accountable to their faith communities chaplains need to ensure they articulate their distinctive role as those who care for the spiritual. This involves time, energy and action and being in many roles simultaneously. It involves being prepared to assess and review practice and above all to change.

Author Biography

  • Anne Aldridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge

    Anne Aldridge is Deputy Lead Chaplain at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge


BRUGGEMANN, W. (1989) The Legitimacy of a Sectarian Hermeneutic: 2 Kings 18-19, Education for citizenship and discipleship, ed. Mary C. Boys (1989), 3-34, New York: Pilgrim Press

CARR, W. (1994) Brief encounters, London: SPCK

CARR, W. (1997) Handbook of pastoral studies, London: SPCK

COBB, M & ROBSHAW V (1998) The spiritual challenge of health care , London: Churchill

DoH (2003) NHS Chaplaincy, London: Her Majesties Stationary Office

ASTLEY, J et al. (1991) How Faith Grows: Faith Development and Christian Education, London: National Society/Church House Publishing

FRASER, D.2004 Clarity and cost effectiveness in chaplaincy. Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy , 7(1) pp 26-30

FRASER, D., GAADT, D & PERKINS, A. (2004) ‘Chaplaincy: staff & patient perceptions’ Cambridge: Addenbrooke’s NHS Trust (article published at Addenbrookes & available from Rev Dr Derek Fraser).

HAY D.& HUNT K.(2000) Is Britain’s soul waking up? The Tablet 24th June

LYALL, D. (2001) Integrity of Pastoral Care, London: SPCK

MOWATT H. & SWINTON S. (2005) What do Chaplains do? Aberdeen: Mowatt Research

ORCHARD, H. (2000) Hospital chaplaincy: modern, dependable? Sheffield: Lincoln Theological Institute

ROSS, L. (1994) Spiritual Care: the nurse’s role Nursing Standard April 13/vol 8/Num 29

SPECK, P. (1988) Being there , London: SPCK

SPECK, P. (2004) A standard for research in health care chaplaincy, Sheffield: South Yorkshire Workforce Development Group



How to Cite

Aldridge, A. (2013). The unique role of a chaplain. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 9(1), 18-22.