For the past couple of years, there has been an intense debate on healthcare in the United States of America, as healthcare reform legislation passed into law. More recently, here in the United Kingdom, the debate on healthcare has also been heating up, with the coalition’s plans to radically alter the nature of how the National Health Service is run. Like many others, our office is considering a response to a white paper from the Department of Health on Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England.
While the focus of the white paper is largely on the delivery of National Health Service care, there seems to be an opening of the door to a recognition that the public seeks a diversity of options for care. As the white paper puts it, “The dilemma for government is this: it is simply not possible to promote healthier lifestyles through Whitehall diktat and nannying about the way people should live. Recent years have proved that one-size-fits-all solutions are no good when public health challenges vary from one neighbourhood to the next. But we cannot sit back while, in spite of all this, so many people are suffering such severe lifestyle-driven ill health and such acute health inequalities. We need a new approach that empowers individuals to make healthy choices and gives communities the tools to address their own, particular needs.”
Such choices need to include a greater respect for the freedom of individuals to choose what kind of care they prefer. One point that often gets overlooked in healthcare debates is that there are other approaches beyond varied ways of administering conventional medicine. A growing number of people desire more holistic methods of healthcare. To many this means the opportunity to choose complementary or alternative medicine. To others it means the ability to take a purely spiritual approach to their care and cure based on an understanding of the Bible and what Jesus showed healing to be.
For instance, in my case, as a British-born citizen who has also lived for eight years in the US, I haven’t used the NHS or private medical insurance for three decades. Yet I have experienced effective healthcare.
In this blog I have recently shared an example of this kind of healthcare. In my 20s I went to the doctor when a condition that had recurred over several years became more severe. He diagnosed it as sinusitis and prescribed an antibiotic which, in my case, had no obvious benefit but led to uncomfortable side effects.
Before it recurred again, a friend gave me Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by the founder of the Christian Science church, Mary Baker Eddy and I decided to see if its more spiritual approach to healing could work for me. After studying the ideas in this book and praying about them for some time, I experienced a vivid spiritual awakening. God became very real to me as all-embracing Love, and the pain, in contrast, seemed unreal. The sinusitis symptoms vanished shortly afterward, and haven’t returned in 25 years since. I most gratefully look back on the spiritual change that took place in me, and the healing that accompanied it.
Because of such experiences, I practise Christian Science as my first choice of healthcare. Although I am, of course, free to use medicine or other means, since that experience of divine Love’s care this practice of looking to God for healing has proved consistently effective for me.
Consequently, as healthcare debates continue here in the UK and in the US – and globally – I look for broadly acceptable ideas to emerge that can improve society’s record of meeting healthcare needs according to each individual’s choice. And, while I would never push it on anyone, I pray that more people will recognize the merits of what Mary Baker Eddy referred to as “the medicine of Mind [God],” both for its practical effectiveness and for the “side effect” I experienced: a more conscious recognition of the reality of that all-loving, divine Mind, God.
In 2004 we responded to the previous government’s consultation on Choosing Health? A consultation on action to improve people’s health. Here is our submission.