Atheists take pleasure in pointing out the very real failings of the church. We are told that we believe because we were brought up to do so, that there was social pressure to go to church when we were young, that we don’t need to be Christians to be good, that Christians are weak people looking for authority figures in their lives, etc. If we took off our blinkers and truly looked at the evidence we would shun our baseless faith.
Unfortunately due to the abject level of theological education in pew and pulpit many Christians at this point do retreat into blind faith. Rational Christians, however, can easily answer all these objections with thought out answers, for ours is a rational, coherent faith backed by ample evidence.
Unfortunately the secular faith of the UK is vehemently supported by blind believers who refuse to look at the evidence, rely on emotional arguments and place blind faith in the leading figures of their faith. We saw this yesterday at the Commons health select committee.
Forget the CofE and CofS, in the UK the nearest thing we have to a state religion is the NHS. The highlight of Danny Boyle’s chaotic opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics was the sight of 1200 volunteers from hospitals throughout the country pushing 320 children’s beds in a paean of praise to what, according to the official programme, is “the institution which more than any unites our nation”.
Like blind believers the adherents of the UK’s secular faith cling on to their beliefs without any evidence whatsoever that it fulfils its promises. Believers in the NHS were out in force yesterday defending Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, and a former member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Sir David had been brought before the House of Commons health select committee to answer questions concerning the appalling situation at Mid Staffs.
In his previous job in 2005 as the bureaucrat with responsibility for running Mid Staffordshire hospitals Sir David had presided over the worst scandal in the history of the NHS. The organisation for which he had responsibility, an organisation charged with healing the sick, managed to kill many hundreds of its patients through the most appalling lack of basic nursing and medical care. According to the Francis report abuse and neglect led to the unnecessary deaths of hundred of patients.
Patients were left lying in their own excrement for days. Food and water were placed beyond the reach of the sick, some had to drink water from flower vases because nurses wouldn’t bring them clean water. Screams of pain were ignored. People died. In any other organisation there would have been prosecutions, convictions and jail sentences. Martin Yeates, former chief executive of Mid Staffs hospital, resigned in 2009 with a £400,000 pay off.
Medical staff who tried to bring attention to the horrendous situation were bullied and gagged by the administration. We are told that the mortality figures for the hospital were “massaged”, they weren’t, they were deliberately falsified in order to meet government imposed targets.
Sir David acknowledges he was ultimately responsible for the hospital, if only for a short time. Despite admitting he inspected the hospital, said he had “no idea” what was going on. It wasn’t his fault, it was a system which failed to put the needs of patients first and he is “absolutely the right person” to put matters right and take the entire NHS forward.
A collective of Labour Health Secretaries trundled out to proclaim their orthodoxy. Hewitt, Johnson, Millburn and Burnham all proclaimed their faith in Sir David and the organisation he heads. As well as blind faith in the closest thing they have to a church there was also an element of self serving justification in their defence of Sir David, they were the people who established the box ticking culture which led to the Mid Staffs scandal, and also tried to cover up endemic NHS failure.
In 2008, the then Labour Government commissioned reports from respected international health consultants to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS. The reports warned of a culture of fear and compliance within the NHS. This was an organisation where the emphasis was on ‘hitting the targets, but missing the point’, patient safety came a poor second to presenting statistics suitable for for proclaiming to the press.
Instead of taking action to address the situation the Labour Government and the Department of Health buried the reports revealing the true state of the NHS. They were even kept from the Health Select Committee. It took a FOI request from Policy Exchange two years later to reveal the reports to the public who paid for them.
Between the reports being buried and the General Election in 2010, the number of excess deaths recorded across the 15 Trusts currently under investigation by Sir Bruce Keogh was approximately 2,800.
Conservative politicians also came forward to defend the indefensible. David Cameron has “every confidence” in Sir David, and Jeremy Hunt the present Health Secretary as well as Stephen Dorrel, chairman of the health select committee all proclaim their confidence in Sir David.
This is more than the establishment rallying round to defend one of their own. If Sir David goes it would mean a root and branch examination of the NHS. Diane Abott described the NHS as “the third rail of British politics” touch it and you die. At present all that happens is that politicians throw money at the organisation, to no effect. The UK inexorably slips down the world’s health care ranking.
Politicians may be afraid to question one the core beliefs of secular Britain. More and more of those amongst the public who were once ardent believers are becoming agnostic at best. The church of secularism is facing huge problems whilst those at the top give every appearance of carrying serenely on. At least catholic cardinals resign.