The Bishop of Kensington, the Right Rev Graham Tomlin has said that keeping humans alive for too long is a “waste of money,” suggesting that doctors should let patients die in order to save NHS resources. Tomlin also says that for those who believe in the afterlife, death was “not the worst thing that could happen.”
“Christians believe in the possibility of a good death and so can set limits on the offering of care, believing that there comes a point when it is no longer wise or caring to prolong life. “Because Christians can look death in the eye as a defeated enemy, they do not regard the sustaining of life at any cost as the ultimate goal and this provides grounds for limits to healthcare spending while seeking to continue to offer the idea of healthcare for all.
According to The Times he said that the church should defend the NHS, citing the example of William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 to 1944, who called for the creation of a welfare state. “Questions of costings, budgets, and decisions of how much treatment to fund and to whom are of course complex, and difficult to resolve,” the bishop wrote adding that the NHS “is potentially a bottomless pit, and some limits need to be set on healthcare spending”. Asked for examples of when prolonging life was not the best course of action, he said: “I do not support the practice of euthanasia or any deliberate shortening of life. And . . . I am certainly not saying that a belief in the resurrection will enable the NHS to save money.
“My point is that there have been a number of recent cases, such as Alfie Evans or Charlie Gard, where doctors have taken the view that nothing more can really be done to prolong life and therefore decided to withdraw attempts to sustain life at all costs and that is difficult for parents and carers. Letting go of those who are dying is difficult, and a belief in a life beyond this one can help people do this.”
He also wrote that the power of healing through prayer should be embraced by the NHS, arguing that examples of miraculous healing are “rare but real”. The bishop, who serves in west London, has spoken separately of the need to reform the housing sector so that homes are seen as places of shelter and community, not commodities.
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