New initiative offers support to Catholic health workers and patients

.- The UK Secretary of State for Health has expressed support for a new range of resources created to support Catholic patients and healthcare staff.

A series of practical publications and a new website (www.catholicsinhealthcare.org.uk <http://www.catholicsinhealthcare.org.uk>), under the banner: Caring for the Catholic Patient, offer guidelines for health workers and NHS managers and trusts.

The materials were created by Catholics in Healthcare. The volunteer group, which helps witness to the Church's teaching that Catholics in healthcare are an important part of Christ's healing mission, is backed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England.

"The Church has a hugely important role in healthcare," said Bishop Tom Williams, Chair of the Catholics in Healthcare Reference Group said. "We are trying to show that Catholics have a natural affinity with healthcare, and make a strong and supportive contribution as we continue to work in collaboration with the healthcare system," continued the auxiliary bishop of Liverpool.

"This initiative is also about galvanizing Catholics who work in healthcare, promoting our vision of care for the whole person and sharing in Christ's healing ministry," he said.

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, said she read the Catholic publications with interest. She said they clarified for her the role of hospital chaplaincy in providing spiritual care for both patients and staff.

"I am pleased that your work supports and fits with the ethos that the NHS provides a service that is responsive, personal to all and one that puts patients' needs at its centre," she told the Catholic group.

Over the next year there will be a series of regional events to support health workers and to distribute the publications across the country, along with other seminars and events. A major healthcare conference will be held in 2008.

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