Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NHS: A Question

The damning reports on the failure of the Health Service to offer basic care to the elderly, I suspect isn't so much a failure of the organisation but of compassion in the individuals who are part of it.
Practically every nurse has a degree nowadays in which contemporary ethics are taught, but it is a bankrupt ethics that prepares every nurse, and doctor, unless they take the conscience clause option to take part in abortion and prepares them to take part in debate about "quality of life issues" and therefore the financial cost of life to the Health Service and there is of course the the whole euthanasia debate going on in the background of our medical and nursing schools.

NHS staff are no longer have a respect for the supreme value of life because their ethics comes from a culture in which nothing is supreme. If I were frail and dying in a hospital bed could I really expect compassion from someone whose colleagues were regularly involved in abortion, perhaps having left a child to die in a sluice room somewhere?


The Bones said...

The bottom line is they are penpushers AND too many nurses don't give a _____ about patients welfare.

shane said...

Hamish Fraser (later a prominent traditionalist) referred to the NHS as 'totalitarian' back in 1951:


(starts at page 75: "Where is Britain going?")

Does this report not show the inherent flaws in state 'healthcare'?

Left-footer said...

Excellent, Father, and thank you. I would be terrified of dying in Britain.

nickbris said...

Dark forces are at work here,some wiseguys are out to destroy the NHS and let the private sector take over just like the power companies,water companies and railways.

They will never stop running down the NHS because they can see a way to fill their boots.

The vast majority of the more elderly could be cared for by their families,they are practically impossible to care for100% of the time,if they refuse to eat or drink which happens a lot of the time there is not much that can be done with the stretched resources.

Patricia Wocial said...

There is a timely answer to your post Fr. Ray, a light in the darkness so to speak.
'Faith & Hope at the Heart of Healthcare', a spiritual and learning conference built upon faith and clinical excellence for health care workers by the Catholic Medical Association (Kent Branch). Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th March 2011, at our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.
I've sent you an email,earlier today, with the A4 brochure link embeded in it. I don't know how to put it in here, maybe you could oblige.

Paulinus said...

There is something of an error in your thinking, Father, in that those caring for the elderly (physicians, surgeons, geriatricians)are very unlikely to have anything to do with abortion (gynaecologists).

You are right, however, in the general worrying lack of any kind of moral thinking that goes on and a lazy utilitarianism, especially amongst the young. I had to do some very basic ethics teaching at the hospital and the lack of any basic knowledge of any kind of general principle of medical ethics was woeful. Only three out of the twenty or so doctors there professed any kind of religious belief and it was quite clear that for many of them their was no moral underpinning of what they did.

The training of nurses has degenerated in the past ten years in the wake of Project 2000. They are fine on paper but by and large unwilling to engage in the practical aspects of care which is left to auxiliaries (before anyone starts on an anti-doctor rant I did work as an auxiliary nurse on and off for three years. Been there, got the badge).

Junior doctors, too, are being short changed in their training. I worked an 72 hour week in my first year, moving to 60 hours a week as an SHO and 50 hours a week as a registrar. I reckon I amassed 30,000+ hours of practical experience in those years - BEFORE I became a consultant. I worked it out with the juniors last week and they will do about 15,000 before they become consultants. Put bluntly, a consultant coming out of training in the next few years is half-trained. As a consequence they will not have the life-experience to guide them through difficult times, will be unlikely to have children themselves, be unlikely to have had a first degree relative who has died. They may thus be less likely to empathise and have compassion for patients and their relatives as they have not been in that position.

Interestingly, although most doctors are opposed to euthanasia, when you look at the figures by specialty, those who are most likely to support it are precisely those furthest from frontline practice (lab doctors, pathologists, radiologists) and those who oppose it have most frontline experience of death (palliative physicians, oncologists, geriatricians).

We are entering dark times. Medicine is still a good and noble profession and I would urge young Catholics to enter it, to consider it as a vocation. We need a leaven through the medical profession, or God help us all.

Lights and bushels and all that.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

There is hope..our eldest daughter age 24 qualified as a doctor last year. She is an ardent pro-lifer & exemplary Catholic also preparing for marriage chastely in April & praying for the gift of a large family. We have much to hope for.

nickbris said...

And don't be fooled by Mr Cameron,s "Big Society" it is a euphemism for Do it Yourself.

B flat said...

I am glad of Paulinus' post and of the experience he has. Among his last words is what I concluded is the crux* of the problem, when I listened to this report being discussed on the Today programme this morning.
The answer to this problem seems elusive, and is sought in a combination of improvements in training and control. The same was tried in education, and we see no tangible improvement.
I believe that nothing but an enduring sense of vocation in teacher or nurse or doctor will keep them focussed on and working for the good of those in their care.

They need at least a strong vision of the dignity of man, but where will they get that in a multicultural, liberal society? Better still for them to be convinced of their personal responsibility before God. Without these, how will the natural goodwill of a young person endure before the demands of CAREER, destroy their incipient vocation? It may be worth checking whether these vanished from seminarian training and religious formation "in the Spirit of Vatican II". This may indicate the cause of inexplicable behaviour of some clergy and religious, male and female, and even prelates, whether singly or in collectives.

If we were better educated, this word would be offensive, and banned from public use, like the reality it names.

justin said...

Should ethics be taught in medical school? To an extent, yes.

But the principles of ethics, the real foundations on which bioethics is taught, is best acquired not in the classroom, but in the family and in the church.

In that sense, the failures of care in the NHS which can be attributed to a loss of ethical principles, are as much the fault of priests and parents, as they are of formal medical education.

- Junior Doctor

Dominic Letchworth said...

''NHS staff are no longer have [sic] a respect for the supreme value of life because their ethics comes from a culture in which nothing is supreme.''

Bit of an over-generalisation hey Father. As someone who works i the NHS, I find your comment (mildly) insulting.

Dominic Letchworth said...

Justin - non-christians and non-religious can have ethics too you know.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Dominic, But our culture no longer has supreme values.

Sixupman said...

The current NHS was created by management consultants McKinsey & Co., changing from an hierarchical structure to an horizontal consensus structure.

The doing away with in-house nurse training schools to the use of theoretical degree based qualification is the root of the problem.

pelerin said...

There is a frightening item of news on the Daily Mail website today saying that trespassing laws are to be used to stop elderly people from 'blocking' hospital beds.

I would like to add that I have always experienced the best of care under the NHS including a period of 6 weeks some 7 years ago in what was known then as an 'Elderly Rehabilitation Centre'. The staff were very caring to everyone and I was not sent home until they were sure I was able to cope on my own after having broken an ankle and a shoulder.

obreption said...

I listened to the NHS Ombudsman, Ann Abrahams(?), at a Westminster Committee meeting. She outlined 2 examples of where the NHS has failed (during the Blair/Brown years). One is complaints, the other is attitude of clinicians. Having had reason to make a complaint about the NHS, and thinking foolishly that they started to pull out the plugs at 80, I was shocked to hear that once you've passed 65, the time is up. At the other end of the scale, I was told by the social care chair of a council that it cost £2500 per week - yes, WEEK - to keep young adults at home. The throw-away line was that 20 years ago, such people would not have survived if born premature.

Regarding the perception of medical ethics and religion, you only have to listen to some Christian ethics spokespeople on the subject. When I heard that Andrew Lansley was an Anglican, I thought: God help us! When I heard that he had pathological genes, I thought about emigrating to another part of the UK. The Pope, in retrospect, was right about the implications of IVF. Our so-called ethical experts have been more interested in catching up with the trade of body parts such as Romanian eggs and sperm donors. No one seems to have the calm and reflective way of looking at what is likely to happen 25-50 years from now. So far, Christian pundits have usually made to look fools when juxtaposed with liberal, atheist and frequently Jewish 'experts'. While the Church promotes Rose of Lima and the Bones of St Therese of Lisieux it will never be taken seriously.

Dominic Letchworth said...

Fr Ray - ''But our culture no longer has supreme values''.

arguably our society has never had 'supreme values' whatever that may mean. There have always been a plurality of viewpoints on what is considered moral. I would argue that we have more of a 'supreme value' now which is what the European convention on Human Rights is in effect.

David Burrows said...

I agree with Justin & Dominic; there are staff in the NHS who manifest 'respect' for the 'supreme value of life'. To dismiss their example, on the assumption that they necessarily acquire their ethics from their employing organisation, is unjust. I'm sure you have a point, though, about the tendencies in the 'system', so to speak, to devalue life.

Dilly said...

I have sympathy with nurses, as a teacher, because we generally have to carry the can for ineffectual and incompetent senior management. (Obviously there are excellent hospitals and schools - and the difference between the good and the bad in my experience is down to the atmosphere and culture top down).My very conscientious midwife neighbour 60, trained in Jamaica and here) is always playing catchup - and the stress leads you to be grumpy and unhappy in your work in general. I was a fairly senior manager before my career change to teaching. My real grouse is with the contracting out of cleaning services.

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