23rd October 2020

Most of us don’t like being told what to do, especially when there is an implied criticism of something we have just done. I am sure we can all think of examples of how we have been irritated when this happens. Doctors learn very quickly that they have to take great care when trying to persuade a patient to change a behaviour in order to improve the health of themselves or members of their family. Just think of how difficult this is. There are so many examples: smoking cigarettes is unhealthy, eating too much when one is overweight and has painful knees, getting the balance of scolding and praising right when bringing up children, the use of alcohol and drugs to mention a few.

For the last few decades we have a government in the UK that has taken on the role of telling us what to do about our health, we even have a Minister of Health! I wonder what you think about this? I suppose it is appropriate that someone is in charge of our incredibly expensive health service, but should that person be telling us to lose weight, stop smoking and behave differently. Much of the rationale for the development of the NHS is based on Christian teaching, that we should care for our neighbours as we would want them to care for us. I wonder what sort of Minister of Health Jesus would be? When we read the Gospels, do we find Jesus telling people how to behave? I read that he told stories, healed the sick and pointed out the importance of serving, worshipped God and, ensured that if we were going to make any sort of criticism we must ensure that we “don’t have a plank in our own eyes”.

The government is currently facing major problems in coping with the Covid pandemic. Central government decided it had to pursue the doctor role and develop new systems of ‘track and trace’. They had to ‘lock down’ the whole country and now have decided on a regional ‘lock down’ policy. These new, untried policies have taken over the well-developed regional based ways of dealing with these major health problems and are not having much success. I feel very strongly that central government should avoid trying to micro-manage health and education. What do you think?

Michael Whitfield