Christian doctor vindicated as settlement reached with NHS England allowing him to pray with patients
At a tribunal hearing, a Christian doctor has been vindicated again following a four-year campaign threatening his livelihood for offering to pray for and provide spiritual care to patients.
In our world where everything seems to be constantly changing, many Christians sometimes feel very uneasy. With the Fact of holding beliefs and adopt living a Christ-Centered life, how does one apply them into today's world?
Christian doctor vindicated as settlement reached with NHS England allowing him to pray with patients Today at a tribunal hearing, a Christian doctor has been vindicated again following a four-year campaign threatening his livelihood for offering to pray for and provide spiritual care to patients. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Dr. Richard Scott, 62, from Margate, had been set to contest disciplinary measures and mandatory conditions imposed against him by NHS England at Ashford Tribunal Hearing Centre, Kent.
A series of investigations throughout 2019, 2020, and, 2021 had seen him threatened with removal from the NHS Practitioners List if, for example, he refused to go on a three-day 'professional boundaries' course, at his own expense, to ‘re-set’ his approach to offering to pray with his patients. Dr. Scott had been ‘horrified’ to discover that the course, which he was mandated to attend, is usually reserved for doctors who have inappropriately touched a patient or crossed sexual boundaries. When Dr. Scott contested going on the course, he was told that for refusing to comply, he would need to also undertake a psychological assessment. As part of their investigation, NHS England had sent in a clinical advisor on a ‘fishing expedition’ to Dr. Scott’s Bethesda Medical Practice in Thanet, Kent, to assess the role of religion in its services to patients.
The adviser expanded scrutiny beyond the scope of praying for patients and concluded that Dr. Scott had a case to answer. NHS England had taken up a case against Dr. Scott despite the General Medical Council (GMC) ruling twice in 2019 and 2020 that he had not breached any of its guidelines and that: ‘discussion of faith in consultations is not prohibited.’ The case against Dr. Scott since 2018 had been built upon ‘hearsay’ complaints filed by the National Secular Society based solely on a radio 4 interview Dr. Scott gave in January 2019. Today, however, just before proceedings commenced at the Ashford Tribunal Hearing Centre, Kent, NHS England, agreed to settle the case. This included NHS England lawyers agreeing that Dr. Scott is free to offer to pray and to pray with patients if he does so within agreed General Medical Council guidance. In return, Dr. Scott agreed, out of good will, and with no admittance of wrong-doing, that he would attend a one-day course related to professional boundaries.
Dr. Scott maintains that he has always offered prayer and spiritual support within GMC guidance and that complaints against him have been consistently engineered by secular groups and anonymous complainants. Dr. Scott, who has worked as a Doctor for 35 years, has described his professional regulators’ action toward him as a ‘relentless witch hunt’ to force his Christian beliefs and approach out of the NHS. Responding to the outcome, Dr. Scott said: “I am relieved that NHS England has agreed to settle the case, but 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. “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. “Imposing the course on me was always a power trip with the aim of ‘humiliating and pressurising me. The toll on me and my family over the past few years has been immense, and I hope the matter is now finally closed. “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.”