Since its foundation in 1856, the hospital’s mission has been to answer the call of Christ to show his compassion in service of the sick and needy without discrimination. The hospital’s charitable status is rooted in this work of love and its integrity is safeguarded by the patronage of the Archbishop of Westminster.
The hospital’s ethos is based on the Roman Catholic faith which encourages us to love and to serve others as best we can. The ethos is foundational and ambitious: welcome and respect for others, excellence in health care and medical services and support for the spiritual needs of those patients who seek it. In particular, the hospital uses its surplus income to fund its hospice.
Our hope is that all those who work at the hospital and support it, will feel able freely to share in upholding this spirit and these values. The good name and sustainability of the hospital are dependent on the respect we give to its mission, its charitable status, its ethos and its professionalism.
The teaching and example of Jesus Christ, through his self-giving, his example and his teaching, inspired the Apostles and consequently the Universal Church to live out the call to divine love and to proclaim it through respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Christian ethics derive from this teaching. The interpretation of individual cases should always strive for the correct assessment of the truth of the issue leading to responsible action animated by love.
The ethical code of the hospital is the ethical teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and formal commitment to abide by this code is required of all those who work and practice in the hospital. It is agreed that no such person may use any facility within the Hospital or its precincts for any operation, procedure, treatment, test, or research which is inconsistent with the ethical teaching of the Catholic Church, or for any consultation directed towards or involving a referral for any such operation, procedure, treatment, test or research.
Doctors and other staff are presumed to be of good will and good conscience. The confidentiality of their consultations with patients must be respected, as must the confidentiality of the advice which they offer to patients in accordance with their professional and legal obligations.
The hospital cannot condone or permit practices in its name which conflict with Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life or respect for the human person. Questions of uncertainty about this teaching or its application in the Hospital should be put to the Ethics Committee which is a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees. The committee is advised by experts and medical professionals. Ultimately, according to the statutes of the hospital, the final and conclusive arbiter of unresolved differences within the Board is the Archbishop of Westminster.
Annex A gives the names and e-mail addresses of the members of the Ethics Committee.
Annex B gives a summary list of actions, interventions and procedures which are in principle held to conflict with the Church’s teaching and which may not be permitted within the hospital.
The members of the Ethics Committee as required by the Terms of Reference:
- The nominated member of the Board as Chair
- Two Trustees / Board Members
- The Archbishop’s nominated representative
- The Medical representative
- The Chief Executive
- The Chief Nursing Officer
Summary of actions, interventions and procedures which may be permitted by law, but which are not permissible in St John and St Elizabeth’s
Legal and technological changes will continue to present us with new ethical questions. This summary is not exhaustive and the omission of an action, intervention or procedure from the list does not mean that it is considered unimportant or permissible.
- Euthanasia – the directly intended termination of a patient’s life by act or omission and this would include ‘assisted suicide’
- Procedures which directly intend contraceptive sterilization, whether male or female (including vasectomy and tubal ligation)
- Any interventions for contraceptive purposes including the insertion of abortifacient IUDs.
- The use of amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling without proportionate necessity
- Procedures aimed at gender reassignment
- Direct abortion or formal referral for abortion
- Artificial insemination either by husband or donor
- In vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer
(It should be noted that the hospital is not licensed to carry out the procedures listed at 6-8 above)