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Expert urges Christians to step up care for elderly during record strike period

by Premier Journalist

A Christian expert in elderly care had told Premier record NHS strikes should spur on Christians to step up their care of elderly people they know, after claiming the main cause of excess winter deaths to be ill people not seeking help, partly due to loneliness.

It's as junior doctors in England begin their biggest walkout in NHS history, spanning six days, in their long-running pay dispute.

Stephen Hammersley, chair of the charity Faith in Later Life, told Premier while he feels the strikes are badly timed, due to 25-30,000 excess deaths taking place over the winter months, the greatest threat to the health of elderly people is something individual Christians can do something about.

"It's actually not the cold that gets people, it's the fact that people stay at home because they don't like to go out. They get ill, and they don't seek help, and the illness progresses to the point where it becomes serious. And that's the primary cause of the excess winter deaths.

"But the solution to this, of course, is not for older people to become dark, lonely at home, but to be in contact with others. And often, if things get serious, emergency treatment is still available. But an older person may well need encouragement to go and seek help."

In 2023, Faith in Later Life launched a 'Love Thy Neighbour Campaign' equipping believers with ideas to help them reach out to lonely neighbours and even integrate newcomers into church life.

Speaking to the justification for strike action, Hammersley told Premier that he hopes both the government and the junior doctors are thinking carefully.

"When we look after sick people, we're actually in a mysterious way doing God's work; we're actually looking after him. I think, therefore, the threshold for a strike ought to be incredibly high. But at the same time, Paul doesn't he tell us that the labourer is worthy of his hire or her hire, and I think it's incumbent upon the government to reflect seriously upon that."


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