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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Archbishop in chaplaincy appeal
Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Williams says chaplains are not just part-time vicars
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged health bosses not to view chaplains as a "soft target" when looking at money saving options.

Dr Rowan Williams spoke out over the situation in Worcestershire where the hospital trust aims to cut six out of seven hospital chaplain posts.

He told Health Minister Lord Warner that chaplains were not just "part-time vicars, visiting sick parishioners".

Dr Williams added he recognised the financial constraints on the NHS.

But he added that chaplaincy should not bear a disproportionate burden of staff reductions.

Staffing policies

In a meeting Lord Warner told Dr Williams it was the responsibility of trusts to set and follow their own staffing policies but he would write to the Strategic Health Authority to let it know the archbishop's thoughts.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust aims to save 100,000 by getting rid of six out of seven hospital chaplains.

It would leave one chaplain to carry out spiritual care at hospitals in Redditch, Worcester and Kidderminster.

Two Anglican chaplains, three Roman Catholics and another from the Free Church would go.

The decision has already been criticised by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, and the Anglican Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Selby.

John Rostill, trust chief executive, has said cuts were needed to fulfil the trust's primary duty of providing clinical care to its patients.

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