This site is intended for health professionals only

GMC to probe ‘praying with patients’ case next week

A Christian GP at the centre of a praying with patients storm will be investigated by the GMC next week after rejecting a warning from the regulator over his use of religion in  consultations.

The GMC’s Investigation Committee will launch a probe into allegations that Dr Richard Scott, a GP in Margate, Kent, distressed a patient by making an ‘inappropriate expression of religious beliefs during a consultation.’

The panel will rule whether to take action against Dr Scott, including escalating the case to a fitness-to-practise panel, which would open up the possibility of the GP being struck off from the medical register.

The GMC confirmed that Dr Scott had triggered the two-day investigation, which will start on 22 September, after he rejected a written warning from the regulator.

The GMC said it will also consider allegations that Dr Scott had claimed ‘his own faith had more to offer than that of the patient’ in media interviews regarding the case.

A GMC statement on the case said: ‘The Committee will consider whether it is appropriate to issue Dr Scott with a warning in light of his alleged inappropriate expression of religious beliefs during a consultation, which distressed his patient.’

‘It is further alleged that Dr Scott subsequently confirmed, via national media, that he had sought to suggest his own faith had more to offer than that of the patient.’

‘Dr Scott has indicated that he is not prepared to accept a warning as proposed by GMC Case Examiners, and has elected to have his case heard by the Investigation Committee at an oral hearing.’

In an exclusive video interview with Pulse last month, GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the regulator will review its guidance on praying with patients as part of a review of Good Medical Practice. Mr Dickson urged doctors to use their ‘professional judgement’ in determining when religion is appropriate to discuss with patients.

In July, Pulse revealed that Dr Scott is the second GP to be reprimanded by the GMC over the role of religion in recent years. In 2009 Dr Michael Noronha, a GP in Warrington, received a formal warning for risking ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’ after six patient complaints in five months.