Published: 15/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5914 Page 4

Four 'super-chaplains' are to be appointed to improve the level of spiritual care throughout the NHS.

The four, whose appointments will be formally confirmed within the next fortnight, will work across different parts of England to promote the NHS's drive to improve spiritual healthcare, laid out in Caring for the Spirit, published earlier this year. They have all previously worked as Church of England chaplains in hospitals.

The lead chaplains will be paid around£40,000 and employed on three-year contracts. The costs of their employment will be shared by workforce development confederations, although the posts will be administered by South Yorkshire WDC, which leads on spiritual matters. The lead chaplains will be based in offices close to their homes.

NHS national chaplaincy strategy project officer Tim Battle said the lead chaplains would hold seminars, arrange meetings and form 'collaboratives' so that spiritual leaders from different faiths could share skills. The lead chaplains will also hold training sessions on audit issues, because chaplains are supposed to be able to show they provide value for money.

He said that chaplains could often influence hospital management. 'They will meet regularly with trust chairs and senior management.'