The General Medical Council (GMC) is reviewing its decision to allow a Christian doctor who offered to pray with his patients to continue practising.
Dr Richard Scott was investigated by the regulatory body last year following a complaint into his conduct by the National Secular Society (NSS).
The doctor works at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, which states on its ethos page that all partners at the practice believe that discussing spiritual matters with patients “is of great benefit”. Patients are told to inform their doctors if they do not wish to speak about matters of faith.
The NSS claimed in its complaint that Dr Scott had made a vulnerable patient feel uncomfortable by praying with them.
After a three-month fitness-to-practise inquiry, the GMC determined that no further action against Dr Scott was necessary because there was “no evidence that [he] discusses faith in situations where the patient has stated that they do not wish to discuss these matters or that he has continued to discuss faith after a patient has indicated that they do not welcome such a discussion.”
The decision was welcomed at the time by the Christian Legal Centre representing Dr Scott, which said it offered “reassurance to Christian doctors and professionals across the UK that they can share their faith in the workplace … without fear of losing their jobs.”
However, the case has been re-opened by the GMC after the NSS challenged the outcome and submitted what it claimed to be new evidence that Dr Scott is “openly flouting the council’s code of conduct.” It claims that more patients have complained about the doctor supposedly pushing religion on them.
The GMC is now reviewing its original decision under Rule 12 of its fitness-to-practise rules, which permit a reconsideration of an original judgement if new information comes to light.
Tim Dieppe, the head of public policy at Christian Concern, told the Catholic News Service that Dr Scott should never have been investigated.
“I think it would be a real shame if they have decided to review it,” he said. “We are confident that Richard has done nothing wrong.”
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