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Health Education: Religious Practice

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what health advice his Department provides related to religious observance; and what (a) advice and (b) funding was received from relevant faith organisations in each case. (179174)

The Department recognises that we all now live in a multicultural, multi-faith society. The Department is committed to recognising the needs of patients and staff of diverse religious groups, and to responding sensitively and appropriately to these needs.

In November 2003 the Department published “NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the Religious and Spiritual needs of Patients and Staff”, which aims to ensure that national health service chaplaincy services reflect the religious diversity of the communities the NHS serves. This guidance was developed with advice from the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy, an independent group, which includes representatives from nine faith communities.

In September 2007 the Department funded an independent organisation called Communities in Action to produce a “Ramadan Health Guide” providing information and advice on maximising health gain during the Muslim fast, which was developed in consultation with a number of Muslim community organisations and clinicians.

In December 2007 the Department published a leaflet entitled “Going to Hajj or Umrah?” This leaflet explains and offers advice on some of the risks concerning meningitis for travellers to the Muslim pilgrimage.

Following the introduction of the Equality Act (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2006, the Department has commissioned independent consultants to develop a practical guide to these regulations, which prohibit discrimination on grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods, facilities and services.

In each case, no funding was received from faith organisations in the development of this advice.