A Christian GP has vowed to defy a warning from the GMC and continue talking about his religious beliefs with patients.
Margate GP Dr Richard Scott was given a formal warning by the GMC last week after a committee found he had ‘significantly departed’ from good medical practice by telling the patient that he could be helped by allowing Jesus into his life.
But Dr Scott told Pulse that the ruling had made him ‘even more determined’ to practice spiritual medicine.
The controversial case has attracted widespread media coverage and led to a major debate in the profession over the place of spiritual beliefs in general practice.
The GMC investigations committee found that Dr Scott has caused ‘distress’ that he should have foreseen, and that it was appropriate to issue a warning.
Speaking to Pulse this week, Dr Scott said that he would not appeal the warning because of cost, but that he was not intending to change the way he practised medicine.
‘If anything it will make me even more determined to do it,’ he said.
‘I showed the GMC all the statistics that showed that spiritual care really helps people’s health… Doing God is good for your health. That is the message we tried to get across to the GMC, which they abjectively failed to grasp.’
‘We have evidence-based medicine and if doctors are not providing spiritual care they are actually harming patients.’
Dr Scott also said that the GMC had downplayed the severity of the warning. ‘It’s a drag, because if someone else complains to the GMC, then it’s two yellow cards equals a red.’
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘Our guidance is clear – doctors must not impose their own beliefs on their patients or cause them distress by inappropriately expressing their own views.
‘This is not about religion, it is about respecting patients and making sure doctors do not use the incredibly privileged position they hold to push their own beliefs, however strongly held they may be.’
The GMC is currently consulting over its Good Medical Practice guidance, but it is not recommending any changes to the section on personal beliefs. It currently states: ‘You must not express to your patients your personal beliefs, including political, religious or moral beliefs, in ways that exploit their vulnerability or that are likely to cause them distress.’