The following item appears in the latest NSS Newsline.
Hospital chaplains paid more than nurses and 150% more than cleaners – but which is more important? By Dennis Penaluna
Figures published on the Royal College of Nursing website concerning the NHS 'Agenda for Change' pay-scales clearly show that chaplains are valued more than the people whose work is absolutely essential for patient well-being.
The minimum starting salary for nurses is £20,710 pa and for chaplains it is £25,829, plus they also get extra for being called out, plus an additional amount as a national recruitment and retention payment of nearly £4,000. In all, a new-starter chaplain will probably earn around £32k pa.
Additionally, all chaplains received an average pay-rise last April of 6.1%. Nice work if you can get it – which you can't, of course, unless you are an ordained priest. The NHS employs around 1,000 full and part-time chaplains (mostly CofE) but only a bare handful of humanist practitioners.
Some of the most important people employed in hospitals, the porters and cleaners, start on the NHS's minimum wage of £6.77 per hour. The pay of a new starter chaplain is roughly 2½ times as much.
Our research into the cost of chaplains in the NHS revealed that most people mistakenly believe that hospital chaplains are there on a voluntary basis and get paid by their religious group. They are paid for by the tax-payer and they place a £42 million p.a. burden on the NHS.
Another myth to demolish is the claim by some in the CofE that the church pays for the training of healthcare chaplains. It does not! It might pay for them to be trained as priests but the NHS picks up the tab for their healthcare 'training'. They start on Band 5, the mid-point of which is £23,345 – nice training if you can get it. (You can't!)
The same Newsline includes this letter from one of our members:
There has been a lot of discussion about chaplains being employed by the NHS. I wonder how many people realise that chaplains are also employed by many other private companies? I wonder how many shareholders in private companies realise that their company is employing a chaplain? The old British Rail used to employ chaplains. Some of the train operating companies (TOCs) that now run the rail services are still employing these chaplains. Why?