NHS settles with Christian doctor disciplined for offering to pray with patients

Dr Richard Scott is allowed to pray with patients again.(Photo: Christian Concern)

NHS England has agreed to settle with a Christian doctor who faced disciplinary measures for offering to pray with his patients.

Dr Richard Scott, a GP for 35 years, faced being removed from the NHS's list of approved GPs unless he agreed to go on a £1,800 'professional boundaries' course at his own expense.

If he refused to go on the course, he was informed that he would have to undergo a psychological assessment.

Dr Scott was set to contest the disciplinary measures at a tribunal in Ashford, Kent, on Monday, but before the hearing, NHS England agreed to settle the case. 

As part of the settlement, NHS England agreed that Dr Scott is free to offer prayer to patients within General Medical Council guidelines.

As a goodwill gesture, Dr Scott agreed to attend a one-day course related to professional boundaries.

Responding to the outcome, Dr Scott said he was "relieved" that NHS England had agreed to settle the case but added that "it never should have come to this". 

"The course they tried to force me to go on was essentially aimed at sexual miscreants and fraudsters. There was nothing that I could see was relevant to me. I was outraged," he said. 

"Sadly I have seen a deep intolerance from some parts of the NHS towards Christian beliefs and a complete lack of understanding of what prayer is and how it positively impacts people's lives."

NHS England took disciplinary measures against Dr Scott despite a separate probe by the General Medical Council twice clearing him of breaching its guidelines around prayer.

Dr Scott accused NHS England of "humiliating and pressuring" him. 

"The toll on me and my family over the past few years has been immense and I hope the matter is now finally closed," he continued.

"I hope this outcome acts as an encouragement to other Christian professionals that it is more than ok to share your faith and that freedom is worth fighting for."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which has supported Dr Scott in his case, said the GP had been "vindicated" and that "justice has prevailed".

"Secular activists, whether campaign groups or those working within the NHS have been relentless in their pursuit of Dr Scott. It is now time for this to end," she said. 

"Dr Scott is a highly experienced NHS doctor whose life and career has been committed to serving his patients and community.

"He is loved and respected by his community which he has served for decades. His love for Jesus and dedication to his faith is also well known where he works and within the community.

"There is no evidence that Dr Scott's practice of praying with his patients has in any way interfered with his delivery of excellent medicine – in fact, quite the opposite. He has seen many patients get set free from drink and drug addictions and become active members of society through his spiritual care.

"At a time when there is widespread recognition that emotional and spiritual support play a significant role in physical healing, it has been particularly distasteful to see NHS England picking on a Christian doctor who is appropriately offering that support."