The Centre for Spiritual and Pastoral Care (Chaplaincy)

Provision of support for patients, staff, and visitors during the Covid-19

The Centre has reflected on government, NHS, and Trust guidance in relation to the current COVID-19 situation, and the specific implications for providing spiritual and pastoral support to patients, visitors, and staff within the Hillingdon hospitals.

We have arranged for temporary arrangements for providing support. These will be regularly reviewed and updated in response to the rapidly changing circumstances.

Support provision

Two objectives will undergird the arrangements:

  • to achieve the optimum level of support and availability to patients, visitors, and staff within the capacity of the centre;
  • to maximise  effectiveness of operations while minimising the risk of infection to all parties.

We shall maintain a necessary and appropriate on-site presence in the hospital, adapting and working within the guidance on “physical distancing” and infection control.

We shall review non-core services, and make adaptations as appropriate.

Due to the layout and amount of space, it will be possible to safely manage use of the Chaplaincy Office, subject to infection control procedures, and limiting presence in the office to a maximum of three persons.

If necessary, much of the Chaplains’ work can be carried out effectively from home, and this will remain an option  subject to operational and personal considerations, and on-going risk management.

Whatever the location, the Chaplains will work their regular hours and rosters, and maintain communication through:

  • responding to telephone calls;
  • calls made to the Chaplaincy main telephone number being diverted to the on-duty Chaplains’ mobile telephones as necessary;
  • responding promptly to voicemail messages;
  • responding promptly to emails;
  • daily liaison with line-management.

General spiritual and pastoral support

  • The practice of general “bed-to-bed” visiting will be discontinued.
  • One-to-one visits to patients on wards may be restricted, subject to circumstances and guidance on “physical distancing” and infection control.
  • Visiting by chaplaincy volunteers will be suspended.
  • Roman Catholic patients and staff will be sensitively reminded  that “spiritual communion” is an approved alternative in the absence of Holy Communion, and suitable forms of personal prayer will be made available.
  • Furthermore, Roman Catholic patients and their families will be reassured that Sacramental Absolution can be obtained remotely from a priest by telephone; we shall make available information about the Catholic principle of “intention” and acts of confession and contrition.
  • Arrangements can be made by telephone for a Roman Catholic priest to offer mass by name for the sick, the dying, the departed, and their families and loved ones.
  • The Chaplains will liaise with other faith leaders to determine what type and level of pastoral support might be provided by them during this crisis period.
  • One-to-one support for visitors and staff will be safely managed within the Chaplaincy Office, subject to rigorous infection control and physical presence being restricted to a maximum of three people.
  • The Chaplains will liaise with Occupational Health and Health and Well-Being officers to ensure the appropriate co-ordination and complementarity of staff support.
  • We shall actively promote the provision of telephone support as an alternative to physical proximity.
  • Consideration will be given to how the temporary support changes are communicated sensitively to staff, patients, and visitors.

Emergency Christian Baptism

We occasionally receive requests for the Christian baptism of infants who are near to death.

Within the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England traditions, in exceptional circumstances any person (eg. a family member, a doctor, a nurse, a health care professional, a lay chaplain) may baptise a child using the correct form which is pouring or sprinkling a little water on the head of the child while saying

“(Name of the child), I baptise you in the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”.

A note must be made of the date of birth, the date of baptism, the child’s name, and the name of the child’s parents and forwarded to the Chaplains as soon as possible.

Hospital marriages

To date, Chaplain have not officiated at any marriages within the Trust.

The key person for advice and arrangements about emergency hospital marriages is the local authority Registrar for Births, Deaths, and Marriages (Civic Centre, Uxbridge, telephone 01895 558250).

However, the Chaplains can give general advice on procedures, and what options are possible.

Bereavement support

The Chaplains will continue bereavement support through:

  • the usual liaison and collaboration with the Mortuary and the Bereavement Office;
  • liaison with our contracted Funeral Director for the arrangement of funerals, including for deceased people for whom we have no known Next of Kin;
  • telephone  liaison and support with families who have been bereaved, and who have requested funeral arrangements to be made by the hospital;
  • conducting “contract”  funerals;
  • cremation and burial services will be conducted within the guidance on physical distance and social contact, and subject to any specific local authority regulations and guidance for crematoria and cemeteries;

Chapel and public worship

The Chapel on the Lower Ground Floor will remain open as usual for private prayer and meditation.

Prominent notices will be displayed to remind users of the importance of “physical distancing” within the Chapel..

We shall explore ways of enhancing infection control and cleaning procedures within the Chapel.

Public and communal worship, including the regular Sunday Catholic Mass, will be suspended.

We shall liaise with other groups about the suspension of communal or group worship (Islamic Friday Prayers, “Jesus Reigns” ministry.)


The Chaplains will liaise with relevant professional bodies, churches, and other faith communities to keep the Trust abreast of emerging guidance and directives.

Contact details

The telephone number for contacting the Chaplains is 01895 279433.

The Reverend Jack Creagh, Head of Spiritual and Pastoral Care


Hillingdon Hospital
Telephone: 01895 279433

Mount Vernon Hospital
Telephone: 01923 844487
East and North Herts Cancer Centre
Michael Sobell House

Chaplaincy window

Telephone: 01895 279433