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Christian GP at centre of ‘praying with patients’ controversy to face new GMC hearing

Dr Richard Scott, the GP investigated by the GMC for discussing Christianity with a patient, is to face a new hearing in June, after the regulator ruled the patient could testify by telephone.

Dr Scott, whose case last year sparked widespread controversy over the role of religion in general practice, is accused of trying to persuade a patient to embrace Christianity in a consultation at his surgery in Margate, Kent.

An initial hearing with a GMC Investigation Committee was adjourned last September after the patient concerned refused to attend, but the patient will now be permitted to give evidence remotely.

Dr Scott told Pulse: ‘It's a nonsense - the witness does not want to come to the hearing but is prepared to testify by telephone, which is not entirely reasonable. If that happens the GMC will be operating at a lower level of justice than a criminal court.'

But a GMC spokesperson defended the decision: ‘Panels can make decisions about how witnesses can give evidence if it is not in person and they will make considerations about that. In the past we have had witnesses give evidence over the telephone and in a number of other ways.'

At the hearing last September the GMC legal team claimed Dr Scott had ‘crossed the line' by discussing his own religious beliefs with a ‘suicidal' patient. But Dr Scott, a committed Christian who has worked as a medical missionary in Kenya, claimed he was the victim of ‘anti-Christian bias' within the GMC.

In April the GMC begins a consultation on possible changes to its Personal beliefs and medical practice guidance, which explores how patients' and doctors' beliefs can impact on care. A preliminary review of the guidance will conclude next week.

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