“Care home concerns …”

This headline about a supported living scheme for people with learning disability and challenging behaviour in a local newspaper recently drew my attention. Apparently a resident's clothes were ripped causing injury to his/her neck and an inspection found that residents had little personal space. Having been involved both as a provider and occasionally an inspector of similar service facilities for adolescents who sometimes present with challenging behaviour I felt sympathy both for residents and for those who look after them. Continue reading

Moral Purpose in Health Care?

The recent scandal about hospital care in the Stafford Hospital has not shown the NHS in a good light and, although not on such a systemic scale, there are recurring media reports about failures of care locally. Last week the Health Secretary (England and Wales) urged the NHS to find its moral purpose. But what is the moral purpose of a health service? It seems to me that it is inevitably related to the issue of what promotes good care. But what does good care look like? Continue reading

Health and Poverty

Can you imagine having to dispose of an asset or investment simply to pay a medical bill? It might be a piece of land, or money that you have set aside to pay for your children’s next term at school. I am writing as one of the privileged few in the world to have the shelter and security of an entirely free (“at point of charge”) National Health Service – something that the vast majority of the world’s population can only dream of. Continue reading

Assisted Suicide – Legislation with a stern face and a kind heart?

Rarely a week passes without media coverage of a high profile public figure expressing support for the introduction of assisted suicide (AS) legislation in the UK. Opinion polls are already reported to show a majority of the public in favour of such changes and a succession of tragic cases has appeared in the media to support and encourage this.  Thinking people need to understand the key issues and principles involved, whether from the perspective of Christian faith or not. A key issue is the moral, ethical and legal concept of ‘intention’. There is a world of difference between a medical act designed to end life, such as a lethal injection or medicine, and withdrawing a treatment which is ineffective or inappropriate. One is killing. The other is good practice. Continue reading

Non accidental deaths of children: observations on damaged perspectives.

In discussions of emotive issues the first casualty is often perspective. There are few more emotive issues than the death of children at the hands of their parents or carers. If headlines in the media were to be regarded as proxies for truth then we might think that children were being abused and murdered at an ever increasing rate. Thankfully this is not the case. Child deaths in general have decreased dramatically in developed societies in line with social and economic developments. One effect of the decrease in child mortality rates has, however, been to draw attention to the circumstances leading to deaths in particular groups of children.  Since the 1970s, much of the effort within developed nations has been concerned with research and intervention to decrease mortality in certain sub-populations eg campaigns to lower child death rates in car accidents by the introduction of seat belt laws. There has also been progress in understanding the antecedents of abuse and neglect leading to non accidental deaths with the result that the child protection system has had some success in this difficult area. In England and Wales, between 1974 and 2006, the annual number of such deaths fell by 38%. Continue reading