Chaplaincy staffing ratios

Chaplaincy staffing ratios: a framework to support workforce planning

This staffing framework is produced to complement the 2023 “NHS Chaplaincy: Guidelines for NHS managers on pastoral, spiritual and religious care”. It is issued by the chaplaincy bodies sitting on of the Chaplaincy Forum for Pastoral, Religious and Spiritual Care in Health.[1]

The 2023 guidelines are focussed on high-quality pastoral and spiritual care that is delivered for all. Such quality and breadth of care is only achieved when NHS trusts have appropriate chaplaincy leadership structures and an adequately resourced workforce. They make it clear that trusts, in work plans and with individual job planning, must ensure capacity is in place for direct care (patients, relatives and staff) as well as the wider expectations of any profession in healthcare, such as capacity to give and receive training, liaison with external and internal groups, attending relevant MDTs, providing on-call structures, participation in research and audit and so on (a full list is found on p.15 of the guidelines).

Why staffing ratios are useful

Whilst every trust is unique, we recognise the value of staffing ratios as a vital starting point in any pragmatic workforce planning. Until such time as any national workforce review is commissioned, these ratios need to be understood as a valuable tool rather than offering a “safe staffing” minimum. The ratios offered are built on national NHS guidance issued (in 2003 and 2015), based, as most such guidance is, on professional opinion and established practice as well as historical reviews of effective teams. Without such capacity in place, it will be hard for teams to offer assurance to their Board or to the CQC that the 2023 NHS Guidelines are being fully met.

Download the framework document:

[1] The Chaplaincy Forum for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health enables engagement between NHS England and the Association of Chaplaincy in General Practice, the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains, the College of Health Care Chaplains, the Network for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health and the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy.