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Christian - Church of England

Christian - Church of England

Patients who choose this designation vary widely in their religious practice and requirements. Chaplains visit wards regularly and constantly assess spiritual and religious needs.

Other staff can help patients by being aware of the following needs which may be expressed even by patients who do not regularly practise their faith by churchgoing.

Daily Prayer and Worship

Receiving Holy Communion

All confirmed members of the Church of England are eligible to receive Holy Communion and patients in hospital may find particular comfort from this, whether they are currently connected with a church or not.

Chaplains or their helpers can bring Holy Communion to the bedside, gathering patients together where appropriate. Holy Communion services are held in the Chapel / Place of Worship and elsewhere and some patients will wish to attend.


Church of England members are encouraged to develop their own pattern and discipline of prayer which includes private devotions and going to church services for public congregational prayer.

In hospital this is not always possible, but staff can respect the patient's desire to find moments of peace for prayer, however brief. Prayer can contribute greatly to the healing process. Chaplains can help people with prayers in a wide variety of circumstances including:

  • Before or after surgery
  • On Sundays or at major festivals (Christmas/ Easter)
  • When faced with any major decision, medical or not
  • When the patient's health deteriorates /preparing for death / after death
  • When confronted with bad news, medical or not
  • In bereavement
  • At the time of a funeral the patient would have attended if well enough
  • On anniversaries of deaths of family members

Other Sacraments

Church of England patients or their relatives may require a Chaplain to attend in the same circumstances as the Roman Catholic Chaplain who attends:

  • To celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism
  • To offer the Sacrament of Anointing of the sick at any time, not necessarily where death is imminent
  • To offer prayers of healing and / or laying on of hands
  • In a few cases to hear a confession and pronounce absolution
  • To pronounce a blessing at certain times e.g. after a civil marriage performed by a registrar in the ward; at a family celebration e.g. major wedding anniversary; in times of psychic disturbance e.g. following damaging experience with the supernatural / where there are fears about demon-possession

Holy Books

The Holy Book is the Bible, a combination of scriptures shared with the Jewish faith (Old Testament), and the collection of Gospels and Epistles specific to Christian faith (New Testament). The Gideons provide Christian scriptures at every bedside (New Testament and Psalms).

Holy Days and Festivals

The Christian weekly Holy day is Sunday.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from death. It is preceded by:

Holy Week: seven days starting with Palm Sunday, this commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus including:

  • Maundy Thursday (institution of Holy Communion)
  • Good Friday (death of Jesus)
  • Holy Saturday
  • These days are the culmination of six weeks of penitence, abstinence and self -examination known as Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Pentecost: six weeks after Easter, celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.

All Saints Day (November 1st) commemorates the faithful departed.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. It is preceded by about four weeks of preparation and self-examination known as the Season of Advent.

Diet and Hygiene

There are no specific requirements, though some patients may wish to fast before Holy Communion.

Gender Issues

The Church of England ordains women and men as Priests. Some Church of England patients or relatives may have conscientious objection to women Priests and to the male Priests who accept them.

They may wish only to be visited by their own parish Priest and not by the hospital Chaplain. However, the hospital Chaplain is available to call in if the parish Priest is unavailable.


Members of the chaplaincy team visit wards regularly but will also visit particular patients and relatives on request. Such visits can be a source of comfort to practising and non-practising patients alike.

Patients talk to Chaplains about a range of subjects, not only religious. Spiritual distress can be helped by talking with a Chaplain and the following indications of spiritual distress may help the staff to involve a Chaplain appropriately;-

  1. Sense of hopelessness / meaninglessness. The patient becomes apathetic or withdrawn.
  2. Intense suffering. The patient asks "Why me?"
  3. Sense of the absence of God / loss of faith / giving up on religion.
  4. Anger towards God / religion / clergy and the church.
  5. Sense of deep-seated guilt or shame.
  6. Unresolved feelings about death.


In cases where a newborn baby is seriously ill, the parents may wish a Chaplain to be called to baptise the child in hospital. The sacrament of Baptism includes pouring water on the head of the child in the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

When a child dies before baptism, has been stillborn or miscarried, a service of blessing and naming is offered; in some cases baptism may be offered.


As death approaches the patient or their relatives may ask for a Chaplain, or staff can suggest that a Chaplain visits. The Chaplain will listen and talk, pray as appropriate and, if requested, anoint with oil.

If the patient has died the Chaplain can still say prayers and help other staff with containing the variety of grief reactions which can be expected.