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Archbishop’s NHS warning: CEN 5.23.08 p 6. May 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.

The Archbishop of Wales has called upon the NHS to adopt a holistic approach to health care, treating the patient as an individual rather than as a collection of ailments.

In a speech marking the NHS’s 60th anniversary given at the launch of the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Trust in Swansea, Dr Barry Morgan said that effective healthcare “has to recognise the importance of the personal in a world of targets, accountability and value for money.”

The system “has to be kept human – in the way we deal with patients but also in the way we deal with staff,” he said. Harkening to the example of Florence Nightingale, Dr. Morgan said it was wrong to treat patients “as objects. True nursing is about offering respect and dignity to those being ministered to.”

He also warned against the faddish pursuit of high tech remedies, paid for from funds set aside for the elderly and mentally ill. “In a civilised society, we need to ring-fence provision for the aged and the mentally ill, the people who are the most marginalised in our society. And it is certain that we need fuller public discussion of these issues,” he said.

Moving the mentally ill and elderly out of institutions into the care of the community was not working. “The aim is still care but there has not been an adequate shift in resources. They have suffered more than most,” Dr. Morgan said.

Prevention was as important as treatment in responding to sickness, he argued, as a “huge variety of diseases are caused neither by germs nor by viruses and are cured neither by drugs nor surgery, because they have to do with other factors in society.”

“Social factors are responsible for many illnesses – living in poverty, poor housing, working long hours – all lead to illness. We have to tackle root causes not just symptoms. There would be less strain on our health service if the roots of some of our social problems were addressed,” Dr. Morgan argued.

Public health was a spiritual issue. “Fighting disease, restoring people to health is seen as part of God’s purpose,” Dr. Morgan said, for “God is interested in us as total human beings – our minds, our bodies as well as our souls.”

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