It would seem these proposed changes to the General Medical Council’s guidance, may have been prompted by the recent case involving Dr Richard Scott:
Pulse magazine reported last week that the General Medical Council is planning to ‘harden’ its guidance on religion in practice.
The document Good Medical Practice (2006) is the core guidance to doctors and describes what is expected of all doctors registered with the GMC. Although the guidance is addressed to doctors, it is also intended to let the public know what they can expect from their doctors.
The GMC says that it is reviewing Good Medical Practice ‘to make sure it is up to date and fit for its many purposes’.
A formal consultation will be launched later this month and will lead to publication of a new edition of the guidance in 2012.
The new draft guidance has added a duty for GPs to consider ‘patients’ religious, spiritual and cultural history’ when assessing patients.
The regulator also plans to tighten up anti-discrimination guidance on doctors expressing personal views, including religious beliefs, in consultations.
Its previous guidance had stated: ‘You must not unfairly discriminate by allowing your personal views to affect adversely your professional relationship with patients.’ Its new version removes the word ‘adversely’, requiring GPs to challenge their colleagues’ behaviour if there is any effect to the professional relationship.
Once ‘Good Medical Practice’ has been modified it is expected that the GMC will then move to modify its supplementary guidance ‘Personal Belief and Medical Practice’ which goes into these matters in far greater detail.
The GMC’s suggested new approach will not just make things more challenging for Christian doctors but will have implications for any doctor of any faith (or none) who expresses a personal belief that he or she feels might help (about anything) to a patient. This has the potential to lead to many more complaints against doctors and many more cases for the GMC to examine. The regulator could be walking a very delicate path indeed.
I suspect it will not just be Christian doctors who will be awaiting the draft guidance with much interest and examining its wording very carefully.
So much for the holistic approach.