"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Visions of empathy in healthcare

I found a really good article by Alex Massie on the Foreign Policy site 
Bitter Medicine - Britain's prime minister grabs the third rail of national politics: the National Health Service.

“However severely the prime minister has slashed other sectors of government spending and however inauspicious the country's latest growth figures -- GDP shrunk 0.5 percent in the final quarter of 2010 -- it's the NHS reforms that are seen as the most controversial. The government needs a plan for economic growth, but it also needs to show that, despite what the Labour Party argues, the NHS is "safe in Conservative hands," as Cameron puts it…Although the NHS will remain paid for by general taxation and free at the point of use, the aim is to build a more flexible service more responsive to patient needs that's less bureaucratic and better able to adapt to changing market demands. The downside might be that an already complex service will become still more complicated and susceptible.”

Massie recognises that all of this is being done to also save money in the long run. Because the original “totally free at point of service” National Health Service introduced in 1948 can no longer cope. Indeed the enormous costs of the latest technology, drugs and procedures could never have been foreseen all that time ago. There simply has to be rationing of procedures and medications. And that provokes widespread media attention when some are denied treatments available elsewhere in the country, or to other patients. In the eyes of many it is no longer “fair”.

But what strikes me most whenever there are debates about our ever burgeoning health care costs in the UK is that no one seems to ever consider in any detail the role that complementary and alternative medicines can play as part of a more holistic approach to healthcare. Ever more complex drug regimes and technological advances are alone unlikely to lower the costs of healthcare. It seems to me so often that many expensive invasive procedures and drug regimes could be averted if much earlier attention was paid to the health of mind and spirit, and the fitness of the body, through both physical and mental fitness regimes.

Because healing needs soul. And the healing power of the spirit and the soul is free and wholesome, with no unwanted side effects.

I have written elsewhere of the new era of spiritual awakening in medicine, of the dawn of a new understanding of consciousness. But this is only evident in a few pockets of holistic excellence. These are mostly in America, although some campaign tirelessly for the cause of the holistic practitioners in some parts of the UK. See SECTco for example, in Brighton.

It is surely because so many of us do not receive the healing for which we yearn on the visit to the physician that we join the ever increasing number of people who seek complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs) elsewhere, often without our physician’s knowledge and with varying degrees of success. It is no coincidence that the number of practitioners trained in such therapies has mushroomed. But these therapists need to be more widely recognized and paid for by the NHS.
This all raises a serious and fundamental question. Should healthcare be seen as a problem of cost, or an opportunity for growth? It should be neither! It should be a dynamic and readily affordable system that continually strives to integrate its conventional allopathic disciplines with the various and increasingly popular complementary and alternative medicines, including spiritual and religious healing methods. These should all work alongside one another in a spirit of full cooperation and mutual respect. This is truly integrated medicine at its very best.
(see for example Hufford, David J., ‘An analysis of the field of spirituality, religion and health.’)


Oratech said...

It amazes me of how much of our physical health depends on our thoughts. We really can make ourselves better or sick but what we are thinking.

Eleanor Stoneham said...

and just think how much money could be saved in the Health Services if medical staff would understand this simple truth! Talking therapies, meditation etc are so much cheaper than prescription drugs and much better for us!!

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