I have been a member of the chaplaincy team at the PRUH for some years, as I provide emergency on-call cover one night a week. I am familiar with how the chaplaincy service operates in the Kings College Hospital Trust (which covers Kings, the PRUH and Orpington Hospital). The team is professional and well-organised under the leadership of a Catholic deacon, Alfred Banya, and it is properly paid for by the NHS (the Church has campaigned long and hard for this provision). The chaplaincy service is there to be used by Catholics who are in hospital.
If you or someone you know is admitted to hospital you should do one of two things:
If the condition is not serious or urgent, and you are likely to be in for more than a few days, simply ask the ward staff to contact the chaplaincy team and ask for a Catholic member of the team to visit you and bring you Holy Communion. You will be seen by a priest, deacon or layperson.
If the condition is serious and urgent, ask the ward staff to contact the hospital switchboard to contact the on-call Catholic chaplain or ring the switchboard yourself (01689 863000); they will ring the chaplain’s mobile phone and will do this at any time of the day or the night. If (and this is very rare) the duty priest can’t be contacted the switchboard contacts the rest of us, one by one. This will be a priest who will be able to hear your Confession and administer the sacrament of the sick (anointing). It will waste time if you contact the parish office here or one of the clergy here, as we will simply contact the switchboard, so it is quicker if the ward staff or a family member does so direct.
The chaplaincy team provides a 24/7 service; if you are told otherwise this is incorrect. I am less familiar with the procedures at other hospitals but I think the system is more or less the same.