|Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton|
'An institution that provides medical, surgical, or psychiatric care and treatment for the sick or the injured.'
Good! Thank God for that, because that is what I thought it was! My mental faculties are still in tact, though, doubtless, some would be at pains to disagree.
Unfortunately, the NHS struggles with this definition. It's a bit too...how shall we say? Rigorous! We had always thought that the hospital was a place where sick people went to get well, to be treated by doctors and nurses. Sadly, as we all know, it is a part of life that some people go into hospital and do not recover. These are people who die because all medical efforts to preserve their life have failed. Some are very young, some are very old and some are somewhere in between.
Now, I hope I don't sound too patronising. It is just that there are some people in the NHS who need reminding of this basic definition. It is the presence of these people, working inside your local hospital, working in the NHS, that means that your local hospital can double up as an extermination camp, at any time, more or less depending on the prevailing attitudes of the day. In the new age of moral relativism, you see, nothing can be taken for granted and that includes the standard definition of a hospital.
So, if a hospital isn't for sick people, or sickly people, then what or who is it for? Meet Dr Daphne Austin. Here is one 'NHS official' who has a radically different vision of what a hospital is to that of, say, most patients and hopefully most doctors and nurses. Let's listen to what she has to say in defence of advocating the withdrawal of treatment for babies born prematurely, at 23 weeks...
'Dr Daphne Austin said that despite millions being spent on specialised treatments, very few of these children survive as their tiny bodies are too underdeveloped. She claimed keeping them alive is only ‘prolonging their agony’, and it would be better to invest the money in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled. Dr Austin, who advises local health trusts how to spend their budgets, said doctors were ‘doing more harm than good by resuscitating 23-weekers’ and that treatments have ‘very marginal benefit’.'
Her defence for this 'moral' position is, then, in a nutshell, 'They're not really worth it'. Now, anyone who has much experience of the NHS will tell you that this is the default position of the NHS for nearly all of its patients. It doesn't really matter too much who you are (though it doesn't seem to help if you are elderly or in the womb) the NHS routinely treats people and views people in this way. The damning NHS report into levels of patient care showed just how horrendous is the net outcome of this prevailing attitude of workers and, even more, perhaps, than the nurses, the 'officials' who are running the show.
Of course, the NHS will always stitch you up if you've had a fall, or a fight, and it will give you some drugs that will help you battle some nasty virus that you've probably caught in the hospital itself because the cleaners didn't think it was worth cleaning that area. That is just them doing their job. Many are there for the paycheck and they do what they get paid to do. But when it comes to you as an individual, many do not give a toss. The NHS, according to what I hear from people contains a high number of people who treat people as if they don't really have bodies, let alone souls.
The attitude of this NHS official, that treatments have ‘very marginal benefits' and that treatments 'only prolongue their agony' is evident across the NHS no matter what ward it is. To these people, washing and bathing someone who is very old and infirm is of 'marginal benefit'. Why bother washing someone who is bed-bound? I mean, they're only going to crap themselves or piss themselves tomorrow, aren't they? Might as well leave them in their piss and shit. Why bother resuscitating a baby of 23 weeks? I mean, the odds of him or her surviving aren't that high. I mean he or she might be disabled? Not really worth it is it? Quite why a sickly baby isn't worth treating, but a cancer patient is worth treating is never made quite clear but then little of this is logical. Why not just close down all hospitals and say, "Look, we're all going to die at some point so let's save a load of money and not bother treating anyone."
Fr Gerald Vann, writing in Awake in Heaven, cites Aldous Huxley, who once wrote, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." As a Priest, Fr Vann, quotes Huxley in the context of the moral collapse of Western civilisation as a whole. The vision to which he refers is the Beatific Vision of God, the vision expressed by the Beatitudes, the vision that led some Saints to build hospitals for the sick, for example. What is more, you could say that the loss of this vision is as destructive upon the NHS as it is for Caritas, or CAFOD, or The Tablet or any organisation, be it Catholic or not.
The loss of this vision is evidenced in Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals, Catholic charities, Catholic churches and perhaps even the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. In other words, any organisation that seeks to do good, that seeks to be a healing force in society is at risk of losing its vision. Once the vision is lost, then even a very basic vision, the vision of what a hospital is, then everything crumbles and disintegrates. Of course, we can all lose this vision, because we are flawed human beings, but then that is why we Catholics would say that is why prayer makes all the difference. Ultimately, that is probably what distinguishes those in the NHS who care about their patients, from those who believe that caring for their patients, whether they be 23 weeks old or 89 years old just 'isn't worth it'.
Of course, I don't know how much money per annum the NHS pays for abortion referrals, but I'd be surprised if the NHS spent less than £10 million a year on routinely doing, rather more proactively, what Dr Daphne Austin suggests should be the norm. Of course, abortion is a mother's (sorry, a woman's) choice even though a great many are coerced into it, either by the BPAS or baby-shy boyfriends. What choice, Dr Austin, does the mother of a 23-week-old baby get in the decision as to whether medical staff attempt to resuscitate her premature baby or not?
H/T Creative Minority Report