Exclusive The GMC says it will look again at its advice on including prayer in GP consultations, but urged doctors to use their ‘professional judgement’ in determining when religion is appropriate to discuss with patients.
In an wide-ranging interview with Pulse, Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive, also said that GPs can pray with patients who are ‘receptive’, but the regulator will still investigate doctors if a patient’s family or friends complain about their use of religion in a consultation.
Mr Dickson also told Pulse that praying with patients is ‘undoubtedly one of the areas’ that the GMC will review as part of its review of Good Medical Practice. However, he warned that GPs would always have to use an element of ‘professional judgement’ on contentious issues while respecting the ‘boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship’.
Last month, Pulse revealed that GMC guidance did not preclude GPs from praying with patients, as long as the patient was ‘receptive’ to the offer.
At the time GPs called for clearer guidance from the regulator over complaints from family members after it emerged Dr Richard Scott, a GP in Margate, Kent, is facing a formal GMC warning after the family of a patient complained about his use of faith in consultations.
Mr Dickson told Pulse: ‘The fact the person drawing it to our attention is a relative, friend, or another professional is not important. What is important is what actually happened, what is the evidence behind the complaint and the doctor’s explanation.’
‘How does the patient and their relatives view the situation, what are they each bringing to the GMC in terms of evidence for us to consider.’
‘Clearly the patient themselves will have a direct experience to tell and therefore will provide stronger evidence than somebody who wasn’t there.’