Dr Richard Scott is part of a practice called the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent – a practice well-known for having Christian partners - and has been threatened with an Official Warning by the GMC and is currently under investigation following a complaint by the parent of young patient.
In 2010, Dr Scott saw a patient on the practice list at the request of the patient’s mother. At the end of the consultation, the patient and doctor discussed religion, each being of different faiths. The patient has continued to seek treatment from the practice, but his mother filed an official complaint, claiming that the GP had not offered medical advice during a consultation, but instead, talked about Jesus! [source]Apparently Dr Scott claims he only did so after a lengthy medical consultation and that no objection was made at the time.
Actual facts about this seem to be scarce. It is clear that the Bethesda practice is overtly christian in nature and perhaps someone not of that faith should choose a different practice if they do not want to be exposed to it. However, most people in this country would normally expect a medical professional to confine their advice to the domain in which they were consulted i.e medicine and keep their religion to themselves. If a practice wants to style itself on christian lines, perhaps to demonstrate faith as a motivation to public good, I suppose that's fine, but it should not be seen as an invitation to evangelise. Also the suggestion that the parent did not complain at the time is hardly surprising. Most people are polite and naturally deferential to doctors who are among the most respected professionals in the country, so while someone like me might well call them out on such an unwarranted intrusion into non-medical areas, a mother accompanying a child may well wait until later to complain.
On the available evidence I cannot decide whether the GMC are over reacting to this event or not. If this is the first time such a complaint has been made, I would take the view that sullying the personal record of a doctor with twenty-eight years unblemished service is probably harsh and unnecessary. Also, I would hope that the good doctor has learnt that such transgressions of professional boundaries are inappropriate and avoid them in future.
Beyond that, personally I would call the matter closed, except to say that attempts by the Telegraph and Christian Concern to frame this as evidence of persecution of christians is absurd and unhelpful. Christians and indeed all faiths are at complete liberty to ply their wares, set out their stalls and attract the "rubes" to their own peculiar and contradictory brands of irrationality without restriction. But, as consumers of professional services, be it medicine or any other, nobody should expect religion to be offered as part of the package if they didn't buy into it at the outset.
the description of the Bethesda Medical Centre on the NHS website is rather extraordinary (bold emphasis added):
WELCOME TO BETHESDA MEDICAL CENTRE
Bethesda was a place in Bible where Christ healed a lame man and means literally 'house of mercy'
The 6 Partners are all practising Christians from a variety of Churches and their faith guides the way in which they view their work and responsibilities to the patients and employees. The Partners feel that the offer of talking to you on spiritual matters is of great benefit. If you do not wish this, that is your right and will not affect your medical care. Please tell the doctor (or drop a note to the Practice Manager) if you do not wish to speak on matters of faith.
"So it seems faith is something patients must opt out of at that surgery." [Source]