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From the cradle to the grave – but no further

Copperfield's practice doesn't do God, but he suspects a vague lack of religious conviction might be just what the punters are after

OMG. A GP is under investigation by the GMC for coming over all evangelical during a consultation.

Interesting issue. On the one hand, I'm not sure that the excuse, ‘But we're a Christian practice' represents much of a defence. In theory, patients can register where they choose – but, in practice, they're usually stuck with whatever's local. And if that local surgery has any kind of eccentric but concerted stance - whether religious, homeopathic, voodoo-based or whatever – then that certainly has the potential to get in the way of the kind of medical care patients have a right to expect. Particularly if the attitude seems to be belief first, practice second.

But on the other, if the GMC trail goes cold, it opens the door for practices like mine to promote our own particular lack of religious conviction. I've been open to persuasion all my life, but the sad truth is, I've never found God, not even with a proctoscope and excellent lighting. Most of my partners are like-minded, so we could perhaps promote our own potential selling point - that is, atheism. ‘Dr Copperfield and partners, looking after you from cradle to grave, but no further because that's all there is. NB No beards or sandals.'

My views were cemented by a real incident that happened a few years ago. I was winding up a home visit with a very elderly, frail, osteoporotic, osteoarthritic lady who was fiercely maintaining her independence against all the odds.

‘I don't know how you manage,' I said, as I moved to go.

‘Ah, the Good Lord looks after me,' she replied, rising to see me out of the front door, at which point she slipped and fractured her neck of femur.

Which made me think, well, He's not doing a very good job, is He, though He's got more of a sense of humour than I'd anticipated.

You may decide not to believe this story, but I swear on the Holy God Delusion, it's true.

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