Working in the medical and caring professions is hard work. Helping people to deal with distressing problems, and caring for people at the most difficult and traumatic moments in their lives has never been easy. Currently health workers of all kinds face even more pressure: coping with cuts in services as funding for the NHS becomes tighter; dealing with uncertainty in the face of legislative changes to the NHS; managing with pay freezes and changes to pension arrangements.
For Christians there are additional pressures. As the recent Clearing the Ground report found, there is a 'narrowing of the space for the articulation, expression and demonstration of Christian belief' in society in general. Many Christian health workers report finding this to be even more the case in the health service. In addition, with the on-going debates about legalising assisted suicide and other ethical questions in healthcare, it can be hard to know how to be an effective Christian in the caring and medical professions today.
Healthcare Sunday is a chance for churches to express their support for health workers in their congregations and the wider local community, to acknowledge the vital role that they play, and to support and pray for them in the midst of all these pressures.
In the UK the NHS employs more than 1.5m people. An estimated 100,000 of the staff employed by the NHS are Christians. The number of patients using the NHS is equally mind-boggling. On average, it deals with one million patients every 36 hours - that’s 463 people a minute or almost 8 a second. Each GP in the nation’s 10,000-plus practices sees an average of 140 patients a week.
Healthcare Sunday is an opportunity to focus on, and pray for and encourage these members of our Churches. The caring work they do is very close to God’s heart. Jesus always had special concern for the vulnerable and needy.
Healthcare Sunday through the year
The year is full of days-for-this and weeks-for-that but Healthcare Sunday can last all year! Perhaps your Church could have regular (small) reminders of what is going on and who is involved. e.g.
• Identify the major health related sites within 1-2 miles of your church and pray for them in turn through the year, using anyone in the congregation who works there as a focal point.
• Hold 6 short interviews during the year with people involved in healthcare; find out their issues and pray for them during the service.
• Bring along a Sunday Newspaper to the service and use the health related stories in it
• Encourage members of your congregation to ‘adopt’ a healthcare worker and find ways to encourage them in their work. Just taking an interest will make a difference.