Christian GP accused of praying with patients to attend 'boundaries' course

Dr Richard Scott is a GP at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent - PA
Dr Richard Scott is a GP at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent - PA

A doctor who offered to pray with his patients has agreed to attend a course on “boundaries” after settling his case with the NHS.

Dr Richard Scott, 62, a Christian GP at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, had received a number of complaints over the past two decades relating to his offers of spiritual care to some patients.

A tribunal that could have taken away his right to practice was called off after a last-minute settlement with the NHS, but Dr Scott will have to attend a £500 one-day training course on “professional boundaries”.

The tribunal was due to consider complaints relating to a telephone interview Dr Scott took part in on BBC Radio 4 in 2019 discussing his use of prayer in his practice.

On the radio programme he also said: “As a Christian doctor you have to ask yourself, who’s your ultimate boss? And it’s not the GMC. It’s Jesus Christ.”

He said he offered spiritual care to around one in 40 patients, and around 80 per cent of people offered prayer or religious support accepted the offer.

The tribunal was set to begin in Ashford on Monday to determine whether he could still be allowed to work as an NHS doctor.

He had previously been ordered to attend a three-day course costing £1,800 aimed at people who had been accused of sexual impropriety.

Dr Scott was not accused of sexual misconduct and refused to attend the course or undertake a psychiatric assessment. The GMC had twice ruled that the Christian doctors had not breached any of its guidelines.

Following the settlement with the NHS, Dr Scott will now take part in a one-day training course costing £500 relating to "professional boundaries". He said that he did try to “follow the General Medical Council guidelines and if you read them correctly, they allow you and encourage you to speak to patients about religion where it's relevant to their care”.

"Some people are desperate for help and I can give any number of examples of people I've helped through spiritual care - which is done on my own time and fully consented.” he added.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Dr Scott, said: "Dr Scott is a highly experienced 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.”

NHS England has been contacted for comment.

National Secular Society said: “NHS Patients quite rightly expect to receive healthcare without having someone else’s religious beliefs imposed on them. Evangelism that targets people who are ill or vulnerable is exploitative and patients should be protected from it.”