Christian doctor struggling to clear his name

A Christian doctor is still trying to clear his name after a complaint was made against him for speaking about his faith with a patient.

Dr Richard Scott, 51, was in Manchester yesterday for a disciplinary hearing into comments he made to a patient during a one-to-one consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.

The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her that Dr Scott had suggested the Christian faith could help him.

The General Medical Council (GMC) offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning on Dr Scott’s file.

It went to a full hearing after Dr Scott challenged the GMC’s decision on the grounds that an official warning would be unacceptable for his reputation and on his official file.

He continues to defend his conduct, saying that he only discussed faith with the patient after asking their permission and that he had acted professionally and within the guidelines.

Dr Scott had expected to cross-examine the patient at yesterday’s hearing and challenge their claims, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to turn up.

The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the GMC’s Investigatory Committee, which is trying to make the patient attend another hearing.

According to advocacy group Christian Concern, the GMC has decided to pursue the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors.

It warns that without the possibility of cross-examining a complainant, doctors will be made “extremely vulnerable to allegations” as they typically see patients in private.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern’s partner organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, said the GMC appeared “determined” to punish Dr Scott.

She said: “An experienced GP has spent 48 hours in an aborted disciplinary hearing in Manchester when he could and should be helping his patients in Kent.

“The procedures of the GMC in this case are ones which every GP in the land should be concerned about as their future and reputation now seems to be able to be challenged by hearsay allegations with no opportunity to cross examine in order that a panel can make a just decision.”

Dr Scott expressed his shock at the way in which his case had been handled by the GMC.

“As a member of the GMC, I look to my professional body to act with the same professional standards that any court in this land would,” he said.

“I am astounded that the GMC are continuing to pursue this allegation on the basis of hear-say evidence from a witness that will not turn up. This case should have been struck-out, but the GMC appears to be determined to pursue this.”

“I cannot imagine that any court in the land would act like this, and so, on behalf of every GP I must insist that proper professional standards on cross examination be adopted in all disciplinary hearings.

“Without it, a fair ‘trial’ is impossible and every GP is left totally vulnerable to any accusation.”