Christian doctor was investigated by the General Medical Council for six months after talking about religious freedom on the radio
- GP explained on BBC radio how he raised faith matters in some consultations
- Dr Richard Scott faced investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC)
- The GMC has now written Dr Scott, concluding the case ‘with no further action’
Dr Richard Scott was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 last Christmas for a series about the ‘battles in our history that helped to win liberties we take for granted’
A GP who offers to pray for patients faced a six-month investigation for comments he made on radio – about religious freedom.
During the programme, he explained how he raised faith matters in consultations with some patients.
He also described a warning he received from the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2012 for preaching to a patient as ‘disgraceful’.
In June he received a letter from the GMC saying the National Secular Society (NSS) had complained and that it had ‘a duty to investigate’.
The NSS argued Dr Scott’s comments made it clear he ‘holds the GMC in contempt, and has not ceased from using his position as a doctor to evangelise’.
The organisation also claimed it had been contacted by a person who knew a ‘highly vulnerable’ patient at Dr Scott’s practice who ‘felt discomfort at the use of prayer’.
GMC guidance advises doctors: ‘You may talk about your own personal beliefs only if a patient asks you directly about them, or indicates they would welcome such a discussion. You must not impose your beliefs and values on patients.’
However, the GMC has now written to Dr Scott, 59, of Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, concluding the case ‘with no further action’.
The GMC ruled: ‘Dr Scott’s summary account of his practice on a radio show about religious freedoms is not a sound basis on which to conclude he breached the GMC’s guidelines or is otherwise guilty of misconduct.’ The NSS’s ‘anonymous hearsay account’ was ‘insufficient to prove Dr Scott practised in breach of the guidance’.
Last night Dr Scott slammed the NSS’s ‘vexatious’ complaint, saying: ‘The irony here is having talked about the battles of freedom of religion, the NSS complained and there was another battle.’
Patients at Bethesda are told GPs might discuss faith in consultations. If they do not want them to, they should tell reception.
The GMC has now written to Dr Scott, 59, of Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, concluding the case ‘with no further action’. The centre is pictured above
Dr Scott said he discussed faith with one in 40 patients, insisting he always asked for permission first. Over two decades ‘only about ten’ had complained, with just one going to the GMC, in 2012.
That led to a five-year warning for ‘expressing your religious beliefs in a way that distressed your patient’.
NSS chief executive Stephen Evans defended the complaint, saying the fact Dr Scott told Radio 4 he initiated faith discussions ‘appears to be a clear admission of a breach of GMC standards’.
A GMC spokesman said: ‘We are unable to comment on cases which do not proceed to a tribunal hearing.’