Margate Christian GP Dr Richard Scott 'crossed the line'

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

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A Christian GP "crossed the line" when he asked a patient if he had considered faith in Jesus, the General Medical Council (GMC) has heard.

Dr Richard Scott spoke about religion to the "suicidal" and "vulnerable" 24-year-old at his surgery in Kent, the GMC heard.

Paul Ozin, for the GMC, said Dr Scott told the patient Christianity might help him overcome personal problems.

Dr Scott has said he does not accept that portrayal of events.

The investigation committee heard that the 51-year-old GP discussed his own personal religious beliefs after the patient told him to "go for it".

He went on to suggest the patient might benefit from a Christian faith above his own religion.

Patient A, whose identity has not been made public, has decided not to attend the hearing. His religious affiliation has not been made public.

Mr Ozin said the patient, who was seen at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, was left very upset, felt Dr Scott had belittled his own faith and made a complaint.

'Belittled own religion'

Under GMC rules, doctors are not allowed to impose personal or religious beliefs on patients and, if such issues are raised, it must be done in a "sensitive and appropriate" manner.

Mr Ozin told the committee: "A line was crossed because Dr Scott expressed his personal religious belief to a person who he knew was a vulnerable patient in a way that was plainly liable to cause the patient distress."

The hearing in Manchester was told that the consultation in August 2010 came about because Dr Scott was told by Patient A's mother that he was suicidal.

Bethesda Medical Centre The consultation took place at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate

He had "lifestyle issues" which frustrated his mother.

Paul Diamond, counsel for Dr Scott, said the GP did not accept that the young man was a vulnerable patient.

"The portrayal of events by my learned friend of insensitive and belittling and persistent discussion of religion are not accepted," he said.

"Towards the end of the consultation, for a matter of minutes, Dr Scott made his professional judgment that matters of religious faith were appropriate to talk about in the context of this young man.

"Issues of religion were discussed. I don't think there is any dispute that it is permissible within the guidance provided by the GMC.

"The only question is was it appropriate and sensitive?"

Mr Diamond said it was the doctor's case that he was professional at all times, followed an "evidentially based assessment" and offered a "sensible suggestion".

The GMC Investigation Committee has no power to put any restriction on Dr Scott's practice of medicine but could issue a warning.

The hearing continues.

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