The NHS and the moral vacuum

The appalling situation in the NHS and in particular at Alexandra and Stafford Hospitals is symptomatic of a wider malaise and not only in the UK. Of course in the UK it is bad:

i am a nurse and for many years now i have seen the increase in the amount of nurses that simply do not know how to care , they simply do not feel what they as human beings let alone nurses ought to feel. all the training in the world cannot put into these people what should come naturally. empathy

And from Wolfie:

Witness the current generation of working working-class care workers, heartless, cruel and selfish with a sociopathic hatred of just about everyone who isn’t exactly like them. Our hospitals are full of them, they treat the patients, the patient’s family and even the doctors with utter contempt because they don’t fear dismissal and will never be prosecuted. The shame of my homeland.

Naturally trolls came in to defend the NHS but another commenter asked oh yes – then what about the death certificate for starvation, because food trays were left out of range of the patient? The mind simply boggles at that. That’s not just neglect – that is malevolence.

The Mail is a scurrilous rag but it does find a constant barrage of stories which check out – woman glasses boyfriend for a text message she didn’t like, 60 year old Swiss banker woman takes husband of 74 who needs care overseas and dumps him there, someone bashes someone else to death because of frustration or even annoyance, four year old boy kicks infant teacher and parents defend him. And so on and so on.

Nurses these days have it easy compared to the nurses of yesteryear. Now most of them claim to be graduates they seem to believe that compassion is beneath them. With all the checks and balances in place why does it take so long before hellhole hospitals like this one and Stafford are exposed? I suggest that the administrators in charge are pen pushers with no real knowledge of anything other than balancing the books.

Yep, the tickbox qualification syndrome. The debased bit of paper the only thing. And the government feels it has to “teach” empathy? Bruce Charlton writes of the zombie science of evidence based medicine – relying on medicine by numbers instead of actual doctoring and nursing.

And what were hospices originally – Christian value institutions:

Christians have been leaders in medicine and the building of hospitals because their founder, Jesus of Nazareth, healed the sick during his ministry on earth (see Matt. 9; 10:8; 25: 34-26). The early church not only endorsed medicine, but championed care for the sick.

The Greeks and Romans were in the first great sweep and there were pre-Christian sick houses but:

Albert Jonsen, University of Washington historian of medicine, maintains:

“the second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe.”

It goes on:

St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (c. 369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick. It was not until four centuries after St. Basil’s hospital that Arab Muslims began to build hospitals.

Furthermore, as Charles Rosenberg shows in his volume, The Care of Strangers, The Rise of America’s Hospital System*, the modern hospital owes its origins to Judeo-Christian compassion. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Vincent’s, St. Luke’s, Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Beth Israel. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children.

Similarly, in Europe, great hospitals were built under the auspices of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Indeed, an ancient French term for hospital is hôtel-Dieu (“hostel of God”). In 1863, the Société Genevoise d’Utilité Publique called on Swiss Christian businessman Jean Henri Dunant to form a relief organization for caring for wartime wounded. Thus, the emblem of the Red Cross was codified in the Geneva Convention one year later. In Britain, Dame Cicely Saunders founded the hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher’s Hospice in the south of London in 1967.

Faith, hope, charity, the cornerstones of Christianity in its proper form, as exhorted in the gospels. Take that charitable nature away and substitute State admissions policies for doctors and nurses and the general societal malaise due to abandoning the tradition which was serving us so well for so long, and all the things you’re seeing around you will occur as sure as night follows day.

Thomson Reuters has issued a new report [2010] that shows church-run hospitals provide better quality care more efficiently than other secular hospitals.

Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president for performance improvement and 100 Top Hospitals programs at Thomson Reuters, says, “Our data suggest that the leadership of health systems owned by churches may be the most active in aligning quality goals and monitoring achievement of mission across the system.”

It is certainly true that Christian engagement of issues surrounding health care are essential for renewing our system of care. Dr. Donald P. Condit makes this case in his book, A Prescription for Health Care Reform.

If the report accurately reflects the superiority of religious hospitals as opposed to “secular” counterparts, we might speculate a bit at the reasons behind this. It may well be due, in part at least, to the comprehensive view of the human person informed by a religious, and specifically Christian, anthropology.

That is, we are not simply physical beings, but exist with both material and spiritual aspects, body and soul.

Here’s a link to the study in PDF.

Christians, as I’ve written many times, don’t have a mortgage on compassion but they do embrace it. Once you can look past the same old chestnuts trotted out time again – the state organized Inquisition, the aristocratic Crusades wearing red crosses on white tunics to show they were Christian, the Papal excesses over the centuries, the paedophile priest issues – all hierarchical and non-gospel based phenomena, one is left with the real charitable and healing nature of hospices which stem straight from the pages of the gospels.

And in those institutions, compassion is the order of the day. Show a Christian hospice where this happened:

from nurses taunting patients to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks. In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months.

What this whole thing is about, what all the sick issues are about today is that people have lost their moral compass, they’ve succumbed to the Me Myself I, characterized by stress from a society unable to find its own societal roadmap now it’s rejected the Christian one and running on a short fuse virtually the whole time. With no exhortation to care, to turn the other cheek, to show compassion, what is left is a Dorian Grey – a pitiless sociopath to varying degrees, from hedonism through to actual malice, as the mistreatment of the elderly in hospitals has shown, followed by the whinging about how hard done by they are as justification for their inhumanity.

Which is not to say they do not have a case – leave a government to delegate the running of anything and it will inevitably be a fiasco, with nurses working 20 hour shifts and the like. There was a system of health care in existence and it worked. But no, Bevan and the others had to force through the impossible dream and look around at that dream today.

And that’s before we even look at care homes.

Lastly, from disgruntled_englishman:

This seems like an appropriate time to remember an old lady named Phyllis Kitchen.

Phyllis (or, ‘Miss Kitchen’, as most people knew her) died peacefully at her home almost 20 years ago, aged in her 80’s, after a lifetime spent in nursing.

One of the generation of young women who lost their chance of marriage in the slaughter of ww1, she devoted herself to caring for the sick, rising to become a hospital Matron.

To her, nursing was never just ‘a job’, it was her vocation.

A committed Christian, she had a simple and uncomplicated faith in, and love for, her Saviour – and when she was not engaged in nursing, Phyllis helped to run a tiny mission hall Sunday school.

She was a joy to talk to, remaining alert and fully compus mentis until her death, and her recollections of hospital life in the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s, seem now like eyewitness accounts of a vanished civilisation.

Discipline among nursing staff was strict, wards were spotless, and the Matron’s word was law. The care and well being of patients was *the* number one priority – and the reason that all of the staff were there.

Touchingly, I can remember her telling how, if a patient was dying alone, she would often remain on duty after her shift finished – simply to sit by the bedside, hold the patient’s hand, and (horror of all un-PC horrors!) actually *pray* for them as their life slipped away.

She, you see, loved them – and could not go home, leaving them to enter eternity without whatever comfort she could provide.

*That* was nursing care – and it’s a racing certainty that none of us will be fortunate enough to experience it at the hands of the modern NHS.

Fittingly, her own end was sudden, and not presaged by illness. She simply died in her sleep – and I like to think that she was awakened in the night by angels, come to bear her home to be with the Lord she had loved and served for so long.

It was my privilege to have known Phyllis Kitchen.

The cultural Marxists and left-liberals will one day answer for their actions against the common man.

7 comments for “The NHS and the moral vacuum

  1. Edward.
    December 23, 2012 at 1:18 am

    You’ve probably read this, the thing is, without Christianity we are lost and this is the result:

    “If you’re old, if you’re sick, if you’re inarticulate or incapacitated, if you haven’t got a sharp-elbowed champion to protect you from the NHS, then avoid hospital admission like Ebola. An NHS where consultants are the new GPs and the average junior doctor has about as much knowledge of medicine as a PC World salesboy has of motherboards, where nursing staff have never been so highly paid or so poorly vocationally committed, where staff have to be coerced to wash their hands, and where basic human dignity has little place. If you’re inconvenient, a nuisance or they simply can’t make a diagnosis, you risk being placed on the Liverpool Death Pathway, deprived of food and water and drugged to the point of unconsciousness until you die. It’s less offensive than the method used by the T4 clinics to euthanise patients – an exhaust hose from a truck – but none the less effective.” […]

  2. December 23, 2012 at 6:50 am

    “…all the training in the world cannot put into these people what should come naturally. empathy”

    And yet, our future monarch (if we’re really, really unlucky) thinks it can be taught. 🙄

  3. December 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

    From my place:

    haiku, on December 23rd, 2012 at 07:08 Said:

    >> Christians, as I’ve written many times, don’t have a
    >> mortgage on compassion but they do embrace it

    From my experience it is normally the compassionate individuals that are religious, i.e. have a belief in and reverence for God or a similar deity.

    OTOH – and again from my [limited] personal experience – relatively few of those who declare themselves ‘Christians’ embrace compassion.

    Unfortunately this has been especially true of the ‘born-again’ Christians whom I have met and worked with: they were anything but compassionate, believing firmly in the fact that their being ‘saved’ eliminated the need to show love towards their [lesser] bretheren.

    James Higham, on December 23rd, 2012 at 07:33 Said:

    Haiku – most important comment and the basis of a post I’m writing for a commenter, Steve, at OoL [although very late] on The Failure of Christians.

    That is very true and it would shock our Greg that I agree. I’ll write that today.

  4. Greg Tingey
    December 23, 2012 at 8:30 am

    FOllowing Bronze-Age goatherders’ myths.
    Killiong unbelievers & heretics, & making sure women are subservient.

    A note of partial apology …
    Yes, I have a whole church of born-agains around the corner, hated by every inhabitant of our two streets.
    But, historically, they are the real christians- “the bigots are the true believers” after all.
    Think Cromwell, & the abolition of the Yule holiday, for instance.
    Or the multiple murders committed by Calvin & his followers.

  5. December 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

    As long as they use their moral vacuum for hoovering up dirt, then I won’t complain.

  6. Able
    December 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    The situation is as you say and in some ways worse.

    I too am a nurse of twenty-mumble years experience. I trained and worked in London at most of the major teaching hospitals. I then moved to a smaller regional hospital for personal reasons – and that was when the problems began.

    I started on an admissions ward (a similar unit to some of those I had worked on before). I, being a realist, kept my ‘mouth shut and head down’, just doing my job as a new member of staff (after dropping two grades to take the post I didn’t want to seem pushy). I worked, as I had been trained and always had, caring for those I had been allocated. I spent time and effort ensuring every one was clean, comfortable and pain free – rarely even seeing the nurses station, writing my notes in my patient area so that I could chat and help my patients.

    The result? In my first six months, my actions were apparently so unusual the ward received 18 letters from patients and relatives commending me. The ward had, as an admission area, eight consultants each of whom commended me to the management. Two particular incidents sparked a backlash from the other qualified staff. An elderly man, blind, immobile and with severe dementia was allocated to me. He had a history of ‘lashing out’ and biting anyone delivering care. I talked to him, explaining what I was going to do, chatting about things (including my ineptitude in shaving him) and guess what? A man who had been grabbed and turned, pushed, pulled all without knowing why (how would you feel?) was suddenly perfectly happy and cooperative. I explained what to do to the nursing assistants and the matter was resolved without the threatened ‘chemical cosh’ the other qualified staff had demanded. The second was a patient who had a lung condition requiring constant oxygen therapy. I, having worked ITU and a respiratory centre, altered his delivery system so that her received humidified oxygen to prevent the complications of drying out.

    There were then multiple complaints by the other staff. A consultant was approached in mid ward-round (in an area with visitors and relatives) and I was described as incompetent and worse for starting the humidified oxygen – the consultants response? About time. From that point on ‘little things’ started happening. My dispensed medications for my patients would ‘disappear’. My notes were ‘lost’. My patients on intravenous infusions had their drips disconnected and tucked into bandages to hide the fact.

    I complained to the ward, and then divisional management – this was, after all, an abuse not only of me but my patients. The result? I was removed from the ward as a ‘disruption’ and for ‘undermining the other staff’. The letters, consultants opinions, etc. were all apparently ‘misplaced’ before the hearing – what a surprise!

    I actually left nursing for a while due to this, but on returning I found a ward where almost everyone obviously cared, working hard to deliver the best care they could. Being the only hospital within reasonable travelling distance it was at the same one as my previous experiences. This ward? Yep, you guessed it, it was judged as ‘over-staffed’ and ‘not cost effective’ and closed!

    The fact is that caring is, whilst still the norm for the vast majority of nursing staff, is being deliberately and systematically discouraged. The question is why?

    • Greg Tingey
      December 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      SO that so much “better” private firma=s can rip evryone off, of course.
      It’s a replay of PPP & PFI…..

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