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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Praying doctor up before GMC next week

The General Medical Council (GMC) is to launch an investigation next week into allegations, previously reported in Newsline, that a GP in Margate, Kent, upset a patient by offering to pray for them.

The GMC is to launch an investigation into allegations that Dr Richard Scott caused distress to a patient by “making an inappropriate expression of religious beliefs during a consultation.

Dr Richard Scott refused to accept a written warning from the regulator, now its Investigation Panel will look at whether Dr Scott caused distress to a patient by "making an inappropriate expression of religious beliefs during a consultation." The GMC said it will also consider allegations that Dr Scott had claimed "his own faith had more to offer than that of the patient" in media interviews regarding the case.

A GMC statement on the case said: "The Committee will consider whether it is appropriate to issue Dr Scott with a warning in light of his alleged inappropriate expression of religious beliefs during a consultation, which distressed his patient. It is further alleged that Dr Scott subsequently confirmed, via national media, that he had sought to suggest his own faith had more to offer than that of the patient.

"Dr Scott has indicated that he is not prepared to accept a warning as proposed by GMC Case Examiners, and has elected to have his case heard by the Investigation Committee at an oral hearing."

The panel will rule whether to take action against Dr Scott, including escalating the case to a fitness-to-practise panel, which would open up the possibility of the GP being struck off from the medical register.

Last month, the GMC's chief executive, Niall Dickson, said the regulator will review its guidance on praying with patients as part of a review of Good Medical Practice. Mr Dickson urged doctors to use their "professional judgement" in determining when religion is appropriate to discuss with patients.

Dr Scott is one of six Christian partners in Margate in a medical centre called Bethesda, named after a biblical pool of healing. It states on the official NHS Choices website that spiritual matters are likely to be discussed with patients during consultations.

Dr Scott said: "The GMC may warn me or decide to take matters further. But it is worth the risk as I wanted to give confidence and inspiration to other Christians who work in the medical profession."

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: The Bethesda medical centre has no business describing itself as a "Christian practice" when it is running on National Health Service money. It is a medical practice that should have no religious, political or other ideological basis that could alienate any member of the community."


See also: Mormons told to stop proselytising on buses

Published Fri, 16 Sep 2011