FERGUS FINLAY: Relationship between State and institutions is not always healthy

FOR A number of days spread over a couple of years, I’ve had reason to be lying on a hospital bed staring at the wall opposite me. Nothing life-threatening involved, but there all the same. Try as I might, I can’t remember seeing any crucifixes or religious paintings on any of the walls I’ve had to stare at.

Does that mean they weren’t there? Probably not. I’m guessing it’s much more likely that they simply never registered in my addled old brain. I’m reasonably sure that if there had been a Buddha on the wall I’d have noticed it, but I stopped noticing the religious icons I was raised with many years ago, because they stopped having meaning in my life.

Which I guess is the reason I’ve been a bit perplexed by the public debate on a new recommendation that hospitals in particular should “be cognisant of the impact of (religious) décor on patients or service users and strive to ensure that their personal preferences in this regard are met to the greatest extent possible”.

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