1) Great health care should be universally accessible to all. I tweeted recently that I was pleased that Obama was re-elected, not because I think his politics are particularly more radical or really that different from those of Romney, but so that Obama Care could have a chance. A chap from the states tweeted back that nothing in life is free, it’s just not the ‘American Way’. The politics of Jesus is clear. He goes to the poor, the marginalised, the rejects and the outcasts. He never creates loopholes to exclude them! He treats the foreigner with dignity and cares for the unlovely. His politics are far more challenging that we would ever allow ourselves to believe! There is no toxic distinction made between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. That is a repulsive notion that we must not allow ourselves to be aligned with.
Where the rich can access better healthcare more easily in the ‘christianised’ west, we need to ask ourselves how and why on earth we have let this happen – the answer is not a comfortable one. When 50 million americans cannot access health care, and a black man living in New York has a life expectancy of just over 40, also true of a homeless person living in London, we have to wonder about our priorities. You are far more likely to die young in an inner city estate from chronic disease than if you live in a middle class suburb. And that is only the health injustice in the west.
We bury our heads when we begin to think of the life expectancy of our brothers and sisters in Africa, in South America, in parts of Asia. We focus on increasing the life expectancy of the rich (white) ones in the UK to 85 or more, and feel a deep sense of achievement, while all the time, children die of diarrhoea (can you imagine if that happened here?), starvation, malaria, things that are genuinely and inexpensively preventable?! I don’t come at this naively. I don’t think the answer is a quick fix, but there is a kenarchic challenge – to those whom much is given, much is required. So often we hang on to human rights, and make them about me and my rights. We want to become our own mini emperors, where we demand the best for ourselves and the self protectionism sadly drowns out the cry of others. The truth is, we don’t need to make healthcare everywhere worse for good health care to happen everywhere for everyone.
However, we need to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable about the amount that is currently spent per head on healthcare for a wealthy child compared to a poor one…….we need to find new ways to protest, new ways to give, new ways to redistribute resource. But we cannot remain silent and we cannot do nothing. We cannot be like the fat cats who sing our happy songs and forget about justice for the poor. The millenium development goals are now, sadly, a total joke, and yet we could have gone further…….we blame, amongst other things the banking crisis. This is plainly a lie. If we want to live in a way that is like God, and really see justice and mercy filling the earth we live in, then we must learn to prioritise those He prioritises.
Thanks for this. Do you have suggestions of most effective ways of changing healthcare system within the UK,when we have first hand experience of people being mistreated becasuse of their brokeness and lifestyles that are a result of that. We can complain I guess, but what else… Sometimes walking with the individuals just doesn’t seem.enough…although it is a priviledge.
Such a challenge……just to clarify, sorry, is your experience with people being badly treated because they are broken, or being broken because of the way they were treated?
both!! I work with women involved in street prostitution- most (if not all)have come out of abused back grounds, lived in care etc, they work the streets to fund a drug habit, and often (NOT always) see them not treated with the same care, or not followed up despite serious health complaints or mental health problems- it’s just so sad.
It is sad – thanks so much for all the incredible work you do in caring for them – really amazing. there are a few challenges to be faced. One of them is attitudinal – and I’m afraid it’s easy to fall into as a health professional. It’s what we sometimes (wrongly) call ‘heart sink patients’. When some people walk into your room, sometimes you can feel your heart sink. It’s wrong, but it can happen. It can be because you feel helpless, or judgmental, or inconvenienced (as you know it’s going to take more than your allotted 10 minutes to help them) or a host of other things…..That kind of attitude leads to poorer care. When I was training, I asked my trainer how to cope with ‘heart-sink’ patients. It was profound, and I will blog on it in a few days. She said ” there is no such thing as a heart-sink patient”. If your heart sinks, the problem is with your heart, not with the patient! Don’t let your heart sink, let it rise to the challenge to love more! you can guarantee that what they are going through is far worse than your problem of trying to help them. more than sometimes, we need reminding of this! So, advocates, like you, can gently challenge practice that you feel is unkind or unacceptable. the reaction may not be great, but if we are self reflective practitioners, it should see a change in our behaviour! the other difficulty here is a lack of time. Targets are becoming more and more driven and to remember to be human and practice some disobedience to the system sometimes is vital!