Quite often in Religious Studies lessons our discussion lead us to the NHS – the National Health Service in Britain which provides free medical treatment to people resident in the country. If we are discussing the causes of crime; illegal drugs; alcohol and cigarette addiction; multi-faith society; and immigration we often at some point mention the NHS and its benefits and flaws.
So what do we think about some NHS trusts having a criteria which puts smokers and obese people at the back of the queue for certain treatments like hip and knee operations? The critics call it ‘lifestyle rationing’ whereas the NHS Trust says they advise patients to improve their lifestyle over 6 months as health optimisation. Now other NHS Trusts might take up this policy and so people are debating whether it is morally fair: the Evening Standard, The Sun, The Independent, and BBC all reported this story.
What might a religious person think about this debate? With regards Christianity we could refer to: sanctity of life, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Sheep and Goat, Do Not Kill, the Golden Rule, Love Thy Neighbour, live like Jesus, and situation ethics. Whereas for Buddhism we could refer to the 5 Precepts focusing in on Do not Harm and Do not Take Drugs, Karma, Tanha (craving), Karuna (compassion) and Upaya Kausalya (skilful means).