Who should pay for hospital chaplains?

The cost to the taxpayer of hospital chaplains was exposed by the National Secular Society this week and prompted a national debate.

The NSS had undertaken research under the Freedom of Information Act to discover how much is spent on chaplains. The research — co-ordinated by NSS member Dennis Penaluna — revealed that £32 million was spent in the UK on wages alone. We estimated that when national insurance, pensions, administration, office space, prayer rooms and chapels were taken into account this was likely to be in the region of £40 million.

When the issue was taken up by the BBC, the NSS started a marathon round of interviews, talking on radio stations up and down the country, as well as on the Today Programme, Breakfast TV and the BBC News Channel.

Read our press release about our research
Read the report to the Department of Health
See the statistics

Terry Sanderson said: “Although the chaplains have put up a spirited fight defending their corner, many people contacted us and the various message boards that were discussing it, to say that they had no idea at all that the chaplains were paid from public funds. Many people simply assumed that they were clergy working for the churches but based in hospitals. That’s what we think it should be.”

Listen to Terry Sanderson on the Today programme

Below: Evan Harris speaking on BBC Breakfast

9 April 2009