By Ellie Broughton
GP leaders have raised major concerns over the Government’s revised counter-terrorism strategy that requires doctors and other health professionals to identify people who are ‘vulnerable to radicalism’.
Under the Prevent strategy – that aims to ‘prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support’ – the medical profession will be expected to identify and report anyone they suspect of being ‘vulnerable to radicalism’.
The strategy has already come up against stiff opposition from the BMA, who says it will threaten trust in the doctor-patient relationship.
The Home Office document says: ‘Given the very high numbers of people who come into contact with health professionals in this country, the sector is a critical partner in Prevent.’
‘There are clearly many opportunities for doctors, nurses and other staff to help protect people from radicalisation. The key challenge is to ensure that healthcare workers can identify the signs that someone is vulnerable to radicalisation, interpret those signs correctly and access the relevant support.’
The British Medical Association said the strategy ‘goes a lot further’ than the requirement that doctors were allowed to breach patient confidentiality in the public interest – for example, if they thought someone was going to blow up a bus.
She said: ‘Doctors cannot look into the future and say how someone might behave. This would threaten the trust of the doctor- patient relationship.’
‘A doctor’s role is to treat the patient in front of them, not predict how the patient will behave in future.’
A member of the BMA’s Equality and Diversity Committee Dr Kailash Chand supported this argument: ‘As citizens its our duty to see what we can do to help the state as a normal citizen. But as a GP I think that’s totally out of order, asking GPs to act as policemen.’