Evangelical doctor: fresh inquiry launched by UK medical watchdog

Evangelical doctor: fresh inquiry launched by UK medical watchdog January 6, 2020

LAST month Christian Concern gleefully declared that ‘Christian doctor secures freedom to pray’.

The CC’s Andrea Minichiello Williams, said:

The outcome of this case not only gives reassurance to Christian doctors and professionals across the UK that they can share their faith in the workplace, but also clear guidance on how they can share it without fear of losing their jobs.

Andrea Minichiello Williams and Dr Richard Scott. Images via YouTube

The case in question centred on Kent GP Dr Richard Scott, who was accused by the National Secular Society (NSS) of breaking General Medical Council rules by engaging in prayer with an unnamed patient. In December the CC said  that Scott:

Has finally been vindicated after a concerted and targeted attack against him by a secularist campaign group was thrown out by the General Medical Council.

And it put online a video in which Scott said of the GMC investigation:

We now have a generation of young doctors who are so scared to open their mouths for Jesus in case the National Secular Society, the General Medical Council Council, NHS England or anyone else – the British Humanist Association* – complains.

But yesterday the Guardian reported that the case is by no means over, and that the GMC is reviewing its decision not to investigate Scott after the NSS challenged the ruling and submitted what it says is new evidence.

The GMC confirmed to the society that it is reviewing the decision under rule 12 of its fitness to practice procedures, which allow it to reconsider cases if new information comes to light.

The move follows comments Scott made to the media. On December 9, he told BBC Radio Kent that he would continue to initiate conversations with patients about faith, and confirmed that he had not changed his approach since receiving a warning from the council in 2012.

That warning came after he told a patient that “the devil haunts people who do not turn to Jesus”.

At the time the council said Scott’s conduct constituted “a significant departure” from the principles outlined in its professional guidance.

Image via YouTube

Said Stephen Evans, above, Chief Executive of the NSS:

The General Medical Council’s decision to review Dr Richard Scott’s case is welcome. Dr Scott’s recent comments appear to make clear that he holds the GMC in contempt and considers himself above the rules it puts in place to protect patients. Being an evangelical Christian should not exempt him from the standards expected of all doctors working in the UK.

Section 30 of the GMC’s guidance on personal beliefs and medical practice states:

You may talk about your own personal beliefs only if a patient asks you directly about them, or indicates they would welcome such a discussion. You must not impose your beliefs and values on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of them.

Scott did not respond to a request for comment. But last month he told the Mail on Sunday that he discussed faith with around one in 40 patients. He insisted that he always asked for permission first. Over two decades, he said, “only about 10” had complained, with just one going to the GMC, in 2012.

Following the GMC’s original decision not to pursue the matter, he said:

It was clear from the outset that the NSS was targeting not just me and the practice, but also the freedom of Christian professionals across the UK to share their faith in the workplace.

Evans said:

Conversion activity is exploitative and violates the trust that should exist between doctors and patients, particularly when it targets vulnerable patients. Medical regulators should take all reasonable steps to prevent it.

Image via YouTube

Tim Dieppe, Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern, of which the Christian Legal Centre is a part, said:

Dr Scott has been put through a lot of stress and anxiety from all these various complaints in what seems like a targeted campaign from the National Secular Society.

The GMC, I think, shouldn’t have even begun investigating it last time – it was clearly a spurious complaint – but were right to conclude that there is nothing to do here. I think it would be a real shame if they have decided to review it. We are confident that Richard has done nothing wrong.

* The British Humanist Association changed its name to Humanists UK in 2017.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Neville

    I’ve been seeing the same doctor for 20 years and the same dentist for 30 years. Neither they nor I have ever talked about faith. I don’t expect to have discussions of faith with them just like I don’t expect to have discussions about politics, sports or the best local restaurants. When I see medical personnel I just want to talk about medical issues. Why does Scott feel the need to talk about his faith with his patients?

  • Tawreos

    Because doing your job in a competent and appropriate manner doesn’t get you applause and fundraisers from fellow christians.

  • Jennny

    My daughter is a junior doctor in the UK, as are many of her friends whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Some are very very fundy….but not in a million years would any of them break the rules and suggest anything religious to their patients. They are too professional for that. The much-publicised Alfie Gard case, where parents didn’t want life support switched off for their terminally ill child. meant that some of those very fundy doctor friends who worked at his hospital, had to run the gauntlet daily of non-medical fundy and RC protestors and they received death threats. Supposedly they were collaborating with evil government forces in the murder a child to save the NHS money. (Fortunately my pregnant daughter was posted to a sister-hospital at that time.) So this guy is, I’m sure an outlier, and hardly anyone thinks he’s a hero.

  • Raging Bee

    If this guy thinks badgering people with his hateful stupid religion is SOOOOOO important, he’s perfectly free to quit being a doctor and become a priest or minister somewhere.

  • Martin Penwald

    Before this consultation, let’s pray Satan as a purveyor of knowledge to us mere mortals. I pledge to Him to diagnose your ailments and guide us to the best available treatment to ease your pain.
    Hail Satan!

  • Raging Bee

    That warning came after he told a patient that “the devil haunts people who do not turn to Jesus”.

    But we’re the horrible meanies for calling him out for it.

  • Raging Bee

    His spokesfolks are currently trying to portray him as the vanguard of a huge movement. I hope those fundies you speak of are not “too professional” to take a loud firm stand against this “outlier.”

  • Jezebel’sOlderSister

    If I don’t believe in god or Jesus, how does he expect m to believe in the devil?

  • ♎Adamas

    That would definitely twist some knickers. XD

  • Jennny

    Nothing, no part of x-tianity in the UK is huge. His supporters are lying by suggesting that. The privileged position that clergy and other religious people had in NHS hospitals is diminuishing. In many areas, Gideon Bibles were removed from bedsides not long ago in the NHS’ new rules to reduce the high level of hospital acquired infections. My vicar, a hospital chaplain would go from bed to bed having cheery chats with every patient twenty years ago. Now I notice from visiting a relative there, the chaplain only stopped at the beds of anyone who’d requested a visit – and that was just a few. Chapels are multi-faith prayer rooms and secular counsellors available. So I’m quite sure this guy is a ‘one off.’

  • Stephen Mynett

    This guy is not a one off Jenny. The situation is very much better than it was, certainly in the 60s and 70s when we had Sunday services forced on us but there is still a small group who do not follow the rules. Luckily it is a minority but enough of a minority to be a worry but probably noticed more by those of us who are quite frequently in hospital.

    In my last three stays, over a four year period, I was only subjected to one unwanted visit but a pretty nasty one. When asked if I wanted any sort of spiritual stuff during my stay I stated no quite forcefully, yet one day into my stay I found a chaplain with my notes open at the end of and starting to read them. I told him he had no right to see my medical notes, he replied he thought I wanted to see him and was checking, my reply was that he should check that with the ward manager. He retorted well I didn’t and I can’t see it matters and then tried to engage me in a conversation about faith. Luckily a nurse came by and ushered him out, although then told me he often over-steps the mark.

    I have spoken to others in the same situation as me and they have similar stories from other hospitals, so the annoying and self-righteous chaplain is not quite a thing of the past and there are still enough to be a worry.

  • Jennny

    That guy needs to have official complaints made against him. My experience has been different, Wales has all day visiting so I’ve spent many days at the bedside of my husband in the last 2 years observing 2 clergy looking quite retiscent, not making eye contact with patients but making a beeline for the only one he knows. As more and more people tick the box as ‘none’ when asked their religion – a fact recorded in a survey 2 years ago – fewer use the fallback position ‘CofE’, x-tianity is definitely lessening its privileged position.

  • Ann Kah

    I want to know the relevance of his statement. I mean, if he is a doctor, surely he is expected to treat people with the best medical practices …which don’t generally include exorcisms…

  • Raging Bee

    Most likely some client who wasn’t godly enough for him, so he had to bring up the possibility (strictly our of Christian love and professional concern, of course) that his/her physical ailment was caused by the devil and he/she would never be free of it unless he/she got right with his god.

  • Stephen Mynett

    UWH is pretty good and I have not heard of a complaint about chaplains there for a few years and I go there a lot as it is my main haemophilia centre but there have been problems in the past and complaints are not always dealt with properly, whoever they are about – there is/was an infamous ward manager on B Block who regularly threw tantrums and he had no worries about shouting at and insulting fellow staff members and patients yet most of the staff there just laughed off these incidents and he has never, to my knowledge, been disciplined.

    Outside of the Heath, the other hospitals are mixed, certainly Llandough has had issues with religious types.

    There is a major worry for Cardiff though, the university has a fairly young but vociferous pro-life group and if they are allowed to get going will pose real problems.

  • Jim Baerg

    I tutor (mostly high school math & science). The only time I have mentioned my atheism is one time the student asked me if I believe in God.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    Slightly off topic but the head of chaplaincy in Southampton General is a humanist

  • Freethinker

    So a doctor AND a witch doctor (superstition based medicine)….how wholistic!

    I can remove the gallbladder but I will also have to charge you for the chicken I will be sacrificing to the Invisible Deity in the sky as part of your treatment

  • ginger_katz

    Why do all these kooks have the wild eyes? If I were seeing their photos for the first time absent any context, I would know immediately that these people are deranged.

  • Stephen Mynett

    Good point, I wonder if it works the other way. Do you think the likes of Minichiello Williams and her dopey doc look at pictures of normal, well-adjusted people and immediately think they must be possessed by the Devil?

  • 24CaratHooligan

    My mother implied to her autistic grand-daughter that she’d feel a whole lot better if she had jeezuz in her life. That annoyed me even though I’ve faced the same for 50 years. I’m used to it now…

  • 24CaratHooligan

    As a local pastor Dad has done his fair share of hospital visits, but only if word came to him that someone specifically asked to see him. The only time I knew him approach a complete stranger was when he was in hospital himself and noticed another man on the ward who never had a visitor. even then it was an overture of friendship rather than evangelising. Ironically he did have a run-in with a hospital chaplain…

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Bzzzt!
    Thinking required.
    Rule violation.
    Thank you for playing.

  • persephone

    Several years ago, I had a evangelical RN in the ER. What a jerk9. He said some things to other patients, and some to me that I basically gave him the basilisk death glare. When it came time to check out, he said he wanted to talk to me about my faith. I asked him if it was required to get my paperwork. Cue cat butt9 face, and he disappeared. I had to go out to the nurses’ station to get my paperwork. They asked who was helping me, and, when I told them, they both rolled their eyes, then got the paperwork for me.