Jesus in the NHS

12/09/09 | Posted by Poppy

I've been on holiday for a few weeks and part of my time away was spent in A & E (ER in the States) when I badly twisted my foot. Whilst I was away I missed out on all the fuss about the reforms of the American Healthcare system and the criticism of the NHS that followed but from my experience the NHS has a lot going for it when you have an accident!

 A & E or ER

What struck me as I sat in A & E for two hours on a sunny Friday afternoon was that the people who were there were the most vulnerable in our society. The young and the old. There were a good sprinkling of young children who had fallen out of trees or off their bikes. There were toddlers who had eaten things they shouldn’t, an occupational hazard with toddlers, and there were elderly people. One frail old lady had had a fall and was sent home in a wheelchair with her arm in a sling and a badly bruised face. Another elderly gentleman came in needing to see the heart surgeon. I know not why. I was probably the only person of wage earning age there apart from the relatives who came rushing in to collect their elderly parents.

The unique feature of the NHS is that no one asks for a credit card details or details of how you are going to pay when you turn up injured and in shock. It is free at point of access. A friend whose son lives in the USA is now looking at how they might help the young family with the thousands of dollar medical bills which are the result of the grandson breaking his arm. Children do that sort of thing all of the time. One friend of mine used to get greeted by name in A & E as her daughter was so accident prone. I (and my friend) didn’t have to worry about any of that.

Now the NHS isn’t perfect; not by any means but what we do have is a safety net where everyone can be treated regardless of ability to pay. You don’t have to worry about how the mortgage or the gas bill or the food bill is going to be paid if you go off to hospital. Now my friend’s daughter turns out to have brittle bone disease, which is why she kept getting fractures. The cost to the NHS has been huge with all the operations and tests she has had, let alone the wear and tear on the X ray machine at the local hospital! But should her treatment be dependent on the ability of her parents to pay for it? I don’t think so but then I’m biased as she is gorgeous.

Jesus spent his time with the poor of his society. He healed the sick and I’ve linked to the miracles of Jesus if you want to read more. But in first century Judea there was something else going on. Being sick meant being an outcast and unclean. As a good upstanding Jew of his time Jesus should have had no truck with the lepers and the bleeding woman as they made him ritually unclean and he would have to go and do whatever was laid down to amend that situation. It would be costly in terms of time and money so it was much easier to walk on the other side and ignore the problem,

One thing that hit home as I sat in A & E is that those who have opinions about the poor and vulnerable and sick are often those who are distanced from their situation.

Jesus was a person of compassion for those at the margins and he spent time with them which upset the authorities of his time.

I don’t know all the ins and out of American health-care reform. I don’t know if it is all about some deeper national need for independence or something I can’t grasp, not living there. But the NHS was set up so that no-one who needed health-care would be turned away as they couldn’t pay. I think Jesus might have approved of that.

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Amen, please pray for us in the United States who are struggling to find a way to make care more accessible to all, please pray that the politicians would approach this debate prayerfully and with the attitude of compassion rather than fear

#1. By Ellen on September 14, 2009

As an employee of the NHS there are many things about it which frustrate me. But the best thing about it is that I never have to think about my patients’ ability to pay for treatment. I have the luxury of being able to treat them all the same at no cost or disadvantage to myself. This is a wonderful thing.

#2. By Pauline on September 15, 2009

As such, I find it particularly appalling when I hear of nurses being subjected to the intolerant attitudes of so-called humanists, who would refuse them the right to wear crosses whilst on duty or pray for patients - it was part of Jesus’ mission to heal the sick - how dare they? How dare they??? In 2000 years there are some people that still don’t get it….

#3. By Helen D on September 29, 2009

I think we have a lot to be thankful for here. The NHS has given me a lot in my 29 years. I have had my tonsils out, Gall Bladder and appendix removed when I was very very ill, multiple broken bones, treatment for mental illness and help with diet and fitness. All accounted for. I really don’t understand where the opposition in America comes from. I was visited by not only the CofE vicar but also a Catholic Preist and was offered the chance of comunion on the sunday. I felt God in those hospitals, the compassion of the nurses whether they were Christian or not, the skill of the doctors, he was everywhere.

#4. By Kate on November 17, 2009

C’mon proper agree with you.  Amen

#5. By Rik Boland on March 04, 2011




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