I’ve been thinking about Pilate’s question to Jesus, recently with respect to the NHS. “Truth”, said Jeremy Hunt earlier in the year, ‘is that more people die in hospitals at weekends because doctors, especially consultants, don’t like working weekends. We need a 7 day NHS’.
“Truth”, says Rachel Clarke in a junior doctor’s story ‘Your Life in My Hands’, “is that consultants are always willing to visit patients over the weekend and junior doctors already work far longer than their allocated hours. There is no slack in the system to add to doctors’ duties without more money to hire more doctors.”
Truth, I discovered when I had a detached retina recently, is that consultants have no time for a lunch break because of their busy schedules of seeing patients and operating; and are present in the operating theatre, on a Saturday, when the operation isn’t straightforward.
The writer of the 4th gospel has Jesus telling the disciples; “I am the truth.” I am, as Sam reminded us recently, is the oldest name for God. So what would God’s truth be for the NHS? I am reminded of the story of the Healing of the Man at Beth-Zatha (John 5:1-9.) He had been ill for 38 years but had no-one to help him get to the pool to bathe in the healing waters. Jesus asks, only: “do you want to be made well?”
God’s truth, it seems to me, is that we want a universal health service where the only question is ‘Do you want to be made well?’ When that service is threatened and the dedicated men and women who meet us in the vulnerability of illness, seem to be ignored; I wonder if, as Christians, we fight hard enough for God’s truth?