Christian doctor investigated again for speaking to patients about God

Dr Richard Scott(Photo: Christian Concern)

A doctor faces being struck off by the medical regulator after speaking to patients about God and his Christian faith.

Dr Richard Scott is being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC) after the National Secular Society (NSS) complained to the body in May that a "highly vulnerable" patient felt "discomfort at the use of prayer", The Sunday Times reports. 

The GMC said it had "a duty to investigate" if it felt that a "complaint or concern raises issues about a doctor's ability to practise safely or threaten [sic] public confidence".

Dr Scott, who has been in the medical profession for over 40 years, has incorporated a "spiritual angle" into his care for patients with depression, anxiety or addiction, the newspaper reports.

He is an associate at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, which states on its website that the majority of partners at the clinic are practising Christians and that "their faith guides the way in which they view their work and responsibilities to the patients and employees".

The website also tells patients that they should inform the practice if they do not want their GPs to speak to them about faith. 

"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," it states. 

It adds: "Please tell the doctor (or drop a note to the practice manager) if you do not wish to speak on matters of faith." 

It is not known when the GMC will conclude its investigation but if it upholds the complaint, Dr Scott risks being struck off. 

In comments to The Sunday Times, Dr Scott said: "They are kowtowing to aggressive secularism. Public safety is what they are there for [but] they are suddenly turning it into a big case."

Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, which is supporting Dr Scott, criticised the GMC's decision to launch an investigation "when all Dr Scott is doing is showing concern and care for the whole person, including the wider spiritual, emotional and psychological person."

"We're wondering the appropriateness of the investigation in the first place because all that's happened here is that he's had conversations with some patients occasionally - he estimates around one in 40, which isn't very many - and he only does that when the patient agrees," he said. 

He added: "It's always once he's already done the medical diagnosis and when the patient is happy to have that conversation."

It is not the first time that Dr Scott has been investigated for speaking to patients about his faith. In 2012, he was given an official warning by the GMC after speaking about the benefits of the Christian faith to a patient during a private consultation. 

The GMC said at the time that Dr Scott's actions "did not meet the standards required of a doctor" and that he had cased the patient "some distress" by seeking to "impose" his beliefs on them.