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Doing Justice in an Unjust World

Yesterday's evening service on health care was brilliant - crammed full of things to make you think, liberally scattered with Bible readings and threaded with beautiful, often poignant, hymns.  If I had ever had any doubt about the complexity of health care, I have even less now.  There aren't easy answers to these incredibly complex questions but it was good to be challenged to think about them.

It is unjust that a woman living in East Glasgow with the same diagnosis as me has a lower chance of survival for no better reason than her postcode.  She would receive the exact same treatment from the exact same specialists but there is measurable evidence that relative poverty, lack of access to education, even a different support network make a difference.  It isn't fair that my opportunities give me an advantage over someone else who didn't get them.

It is unjust that clever and capable physicians from so-called developing nations are brought over to the west to train in specialisms needed back home, may be underpaid while they are here and can be sucked into staying on the west where they can live a very comfortable life, leaving their home nations lacking in the very skills they need.  It is unjust that often such 'foreign doctors' find themselves treated poorly by patients and colleagues alike.

It is unjust that our home medicine cupboards are full of 'out of date' over the counter remedies that could save lives in other countries.

It is unjust that people find themselves pressurised to accept or decline treatment and unjust that physicians and surgeons are pressurised into meeting 'targets.'

So much that is unjust.

I am glad that the NHS is staffed by people who are willing to wrestle with these issues, to try to even out the injustices without creating new ones, to treat without fear or favour all conditions of humanity.

What does the Lord require, this, only this, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. These characteristics are evident in last night's speaker who holds together immense ability and responsibility, with grace, humour and firm trust in God.

Today I pray for all ethics and prescribing committees  and all those involved in case conferences facing the thankless task of doing justice in an unjust world


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