Christian doctor faces losing medical license for praying with patients

by Samuel Smith/CP, |
NHS in London, England. | Reuters/Toby Melville

A Christian doctor is under investigation after a complaint was filed accusing him of praying and "evangelizing" to patients.

Dr. Richard Scott, 58, a general practitioner at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, England, is the subject of a fitness to practice inquiry launched by the General Medical Council after a complaint was filed by the National Secular Society.

He is also reportedly being investigated by the National Health Service in England, according to The Telegraph.

The National Secular Society said in the complaint filed in May that Scott, who has worked as a doctor for more than 20 years, made a "vulnerable" patient feel "discomfort at the use of prayer." The allegation was made to the NSS by an acquaintance of the patient.

"The acquaintance told the NSS that the patient felt unable to express discomfort and was not able to raise the matter formally or change GP practice," the NSS contends in a news release. "The NSS wrote to the GMC and the local clinical commissioning group to highlight the case and ask how the bodies intended to protect patients' right to access health care free from evangelism."

Scott received written notice on June 7 from the GMC saying that it had received "some information" from the NSS and that an investigation was underway.

GMC issued Scott a warning in 2012 after Scott was accused by the NSS of telling a patient "the devil haunts people who do not turn to Jesus." Scott was also accused of expressing his religious beliefs in a manner that distressed a "psychologically troubled" patient.

The head of the GMC at the time declared that Scott's actions constituted "a significant departure from the principles in Good Medical Practice."

The NSS notes that Scott could have been fired if there was another complaint issued against him in the ensuing five years. But no complaints were made in that time. The NSS contends that there have been three informal complaints and one minor written complaint filed against Scott since 2017.

NSS' most recent complaint to the GMC also included comments Scott made on BBC's Radio 4 earlier this year, in which he declared drug addiction to be a "relevant circumstance" for using faith in his work.

He said that some "found a great deal of achievement through taking on faith."

Scott added that he often introduced faith into consultation when "dealing with people with depression or anxiety."

He clarified in the interview that faith is in "addition" to medical treatments rather than an alternative.

With another complaint on file, Scott believes the NSS is "gunning" for him and would like to see him lose his job because "they don't like me."

"Well, to be honest, I don't like them but I am not gunning for them to lose their jobs," Scott told The Sunday Times. "They think I am irresponsible and dangerous and I would say the same about them."

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