A Christian GP has been issued with a warning for a ‘significant departure’ from good medical practice from the GMC after telling a patient that Jesus could help cure him.
The GMC’s investigations committee found Margate GP Dr Richard Scott has caused ‘distress’ that he should have foreseen, and that it was appropriate to issue a warning.
The investigations committee refuted Dr Scott’s claim that the discussion around Christianity lasted two and a half minutes and accused the GP of being evasive in his answers.
The ruling, handed out by committee chair, Dr Christopher Hanning, noted Dr Scott’s previous good record, but said: ‘On this occasion you caused the patient distress which you should have foreseen.
‘While the allegations relate to what occurred on a single occasion your actions nevertheless constitute a significant departure from the principles in Good Medical Practice.’
‘The committee considers that it is appropriate, proportionate and in the public interest for the protection of the reputation of the profession to issue you with a warning.’
The hearing was postponed from last year after the patient refused to appear. The committee allowed the patient to give evidence over the phone, a move that was criticised by Dr Scott.
During the hearing yesterday, the prosecution had claimed Dr Scott had pushed his views on the ‘psychologically troubled’ 24-year-old man, known as Patient A.
The prosecution also suggested to the doctor that because of his deep Christian convictions he had been over-eager to give faith as a solution to his problems and on this occasion ‘crossed the line’.
Cross-examined by Andrew Hurst, counsel for the GMC, Dr Scott denied telling the patient he would ‘suffer eternally’ if he did not turn to Jesus and said it was an ‘absolute fabrication’ that he had ‘belittled’ the patient’s own religion or sought to convert the patient to Christianity.
The GP, who is being treated for cancer, claimed the GMC had pursued his case with ‘excessive zeal’ and is ‘singling out Christianity’ as part of a ‘wider trend to marginalise Christianity’.
Dr Scott cited research claiming Christians had less chance of getting depressed, recover faster and are 85% less suicidal, Dr Scott claimed. ‘I’m not just a maverick doctor reaching out to patients,’ he added.
The committee heard the patient was happy to talk about religion and Dr Scott said he broached the subject in a ‘gentle, non-threatening’ way and was told to ‘go for it’. Patient A then turned on Dr Scott, he told the committee.
The GP replied: ‘Saying I pressed it too hard, I do not accept. I was eager but not over-eager. Had it been an entire 25-minute preach, that would have been outside the guidelines.’