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The Silverless Doctors

2009 September 24
by Gordon Reid


This is the title given to the twin saints Cosmas & Damian because they were widely known and admired as physicians who refused to take money for their medicines and services. They should be adopted as patrons of the struggle to extend medical cover to all citizens of America.

I am sure there are many things wasteful and wrong with the State-administered system of medicine in the UK, but as one who has used it most of his life, I find some of the more extreme descriptions of it by some Americans both offensive and absurd. They really should ask themselves: if the British health care is so awful, how is it that Brits have a longer life-expectancy than Americans?

We will be commemorating these admirable and unmercenary saints on Sunday at St Clement’s, and I’m sure we have a relic of them (as we have of almost every saint in the calendar!); so I think it will be exposed on the altar for the sick and needy – and not just those who can pay for a doctor.

Several members of my mother’s family were medical missionaries in India. They worked mainly in the great Church of Scotland hospital, Dr Graham’s Hospital in Kalimpong. I’m sure they were well fed and housed, but equally sure that they received very little compensation for their work. They were following in the steps of Ss Cosmas & Damian and (much more importantly) in the steps of Him who cured the sick, but had nowhere to lay his head.

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