Religious faith and medical practice: how far can a practitioner go?

The General Medical Council has published the decision of its Investigation Committee in the case of Dr Richard Scott, arising from an allegation that at a consultation on 14 August 2010 he “pushed” his religion upon a vulnerable patient.

The Committee concluded that Dr Scott’s actions “… were in direct conflict with the GMC’s supplementary guidance: Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice”, which states in paragraph 19 that “You must not impose your beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views” and in paragraph 33 that “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”. Dr Scott was formally warned as to his future conduct.

Comment: Inevitably there are two sides to the dispute and Dr Scott contends that he has been unfairly treated. The Guardian runs a balanced report by the Press Association.

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