Kent

Margate GP told patient 'his only hope was Jesus'

Dr Richard Scott
Image caption Dr Richard Scott discussed religion towards the end of the consultation with the 24-year-old man

A Kent GP said to a vulnerable patient that he would "eternally suffer" if he did not put his faith in Jesus, a medical watchdog has been told.

The General Medical Council (GMC) heard Dr Richard Scott, whose surgery is in Margate, told the 24-year-old patient that he would not give him medication.

A GMC panel in Manchester heard that the patient was told "his only hope of recovery was through Jesus".

Dr Scott disputes the account of the consultation in August 2010.

The remarks were said to have made at the end of a consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate.

After discussing medical matters Dr Scott said, as a committed Christian, he had simply offered the patient the chance to talk about the role faith may have in helping with his problems.

At the four-day-hearing, Andrew Hurst, counsel for the GMC, claimed the doctor had told the man, known only as patient A: "He did have a cure, which would cure him for good.

"His one and only hope of recovery was through Jesus.

"If he did not turn to Jesus and hand him his suffering he would suffer for the rest of his life."

Anonymous witness

Dr Scott disputes the account given by the patient, described by the GMC's own lawyer as a man with a "troubled psychological history".

When the case was first heard in September it was adjourned after the patient refused to give evidence.

The GMC heard that the patient had agreed to give evidence by phone on condition he was given anonymity and without the public or press present at the hearing.

Dr Scott said he was being denied a proper hearing after the GMC agreed to the patient's request on Monday.

An application by Dr Scott's lawyers for an adjournment to seek a judicial review to try to overturn the rules was rejected by the GMC's Investigation Committee.

Radio transcripts

Mr Hurst pointed the GMC committee to transcripts of comments made by Dr Scott on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show and on Nicky Campbell's show on BBC Radio 5 live, speaking of his faith and its use in treating patients.

He said medical rules stated doctors "must not express to your patients your personal beliefs, including political, religious or moral beliefs, in ways that exploit their vulnerability or that are likely to cause them distress", and good medical practice stated the "first duty" of a doctor is the care of a patient".

The GMC was criticised over its alleged "persecution" of Christians after the case was first heard last September - which it rejects.

Mr Hurst said the GMC did not have any bias for or against any religion either way and medics could talk about faith - but Dr Scott had simply "crossed the line" and gone too far.

"The GMC's position is not one that is hostile or opposed or biased against Christianity or any other religion," he said.

"Nor does it seek to promote a wholly secular society."

He was then asked by the chairman of the committee who had prepared the transcripts of the radio programmes to be used in evidence against Dr Scott.

"The National Secular Society," Mr Hurst replied.

The case continues.

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