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Have you been let down over deputising?

Dr Fitton makes clear his views on circumcision (Soapbox, February 5). As doctors, we are privileged to treat patients from a plethora of racial and cultural backgrounds. Part of our remit is to be sensitive to the religious and customary practices of such individuals, and not to discriminate against those whose racial origin or faith requires observance of some or other practice.

Circumcision is one such observance. The removal of the foreskin is an absolute prerequisite for Jews and Muslims and is culturally important to countless others ­ for example South Africans and Americans.

Dr Fitton states that a doctor who performs a circumcision 'has engaged in a trade that is illegal' and challenges the GMC 'not to sweep this under the carpet'. Indeed, Dr Fitton says he has already reported one doctor to the GMC for circumcising one of his patients.

Does Dr Fitton instruct his Jewish and Muslim patients to eat pork on the basis that there is no medical reason why they should not? Likewise meat for the devout Hindus on his list?

Should a Catholic doctor refuse to help a woman requesting a termination on the grounds that his (or her) religion forbids abortion?

Surely the GMC position here is absolutely clear: a doctor should not allow his own religious or personal beliefs to impact on the care of the patient.

I perform circumcisions on those baby boys whose parents request the procedure. I am neither for nor against the operation.

However, I do believe that we should respect the cultural and religious backgrounds of our patients. Not to refer parents requesting circumcision of their newborn son to a competent operator ­ someone who will circumcise the baby competently, under aseptic conditions, and using adequate anaesthesia ­ is tantamount to neglect.

The parents will have in effect been fobbed off and may well seek a circumcision from an untrained and dangerous 'backstreet' operator. Surely the child deserves better?

Dr Michael Barrie

Kingston upon Thames

Surrey

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