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Santé et religion au Royaume-Uni

Hospitals and healthcare

In the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare. However, in all these countries, public healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS) is free, and constitutes the vast majority of hospitals and overall health care provision. In the private sector, some private hospitals are business enterprises and some are non-profit-making trusts, such as religious or charitable organisations.


Religious and spiritual healthcare provision can also be found within the NHS in the form of chaplaincy. Chaplains are salaried NHS employees who usually work in multidisciplinary collaboration with other NHS healthcare providers. The work of the chaplain embodies the spiritual, pastoral and religious care associated with these needs found in the healthcare setting. The vast majority are Anglicans, while others are from the Roman Catholic, Free churches or other faiths. They are recruited in proportion to the belief patterns of the local population.

Religious symbols

Staff working in NHS hospitals can wear religious symbols, but are not permitted to proselytise. According to the guidelines for NHS staff “Cultural dress codes based on religion or belief should be considered sympathetically unless there are justifiable reasons, such as health and safety issues, for not permitting certain items of clothing”. In January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the NHS when a nurse in Exeter who was asked not to display her cross necklace on the grounds that the necklace breached health and safety guidelines, accused her NHS employers of religious discrimination.

See also : Manchester health and care commissioning, ‘Faith and Health’, Manchester City Council, 2018.

D 14 mars 2013    AIngrid Storm

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