‘For everything else there’s a chaplain’: Meet the priest from Channel 4's Geordie Hospital


A chaplain in Newcastle is featuring in a TV documentary about the hospital where she has worked for 14 years.
Katie sits with the therapy dog in a hospital ward

Lead chaplain, Revd Capt Katie Watson is appearing on the Channel 4 documentary Geordie Hospital. "

Our department motto is 'for everything else there’s a chaplain'," she said. 

"We only have two things to offer, the gifts of time and presence, but we give them whole heartedly.

"We provide chaplaincy 24/7, 365 days a year, and during the pandemic we never went away."

Her team includes chaplains from various world views and beliefs including Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, and Humanists.  

"This role isn’t for everyone, and people would need to spend time with us to understand the complexity and diversity of what we are called to do," she added.

"Healthcare Chaplaincy is a very specific calling and requires a great deal of resilience and life experience."

She certainly has life experience and served in Bosnia in the 1990s, as part of the Royal Military Police.

"Once you have seen genocide first hand on the streets of a European country," she explained.

"There is nothing left in the world that can faze you after that.

"I have seen the worst of humanity and I have seen, and continue to see, the very best of it."

Channel 4’s documentary is a six-part series, which began on 17 January. It follows the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s staff through a shift, featuring a cast from porters to surgeons, to dental nurses to chaplains. 

"The show reflects some of what we do, but not all of it," she said.

"So much of what we do is so sensitive and so very private to the people we serve that it was not possible to show all of what we do day in day out. 

"The work we do is often very distressing and disturbing and that was not appropriate to show on television in this show."

Work for the chaplaincy team includes everything from running a clothes bank and distributing foodbank vouchers, to involvement in police identification on the deceased, and sitting on ethics committees.

After 14 years in the job, there has never been a typical day. She joked: "Write a plan and then rip it up!"

More information: 

  • Geordie Hospital is aired on Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4 until Tuesday 29 February, and previous episodes are available on All 4.
  • Katie is shown in the picture with the hospital's therapy dog, Poppy.