Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Prayer prescriptions

On the 22nd September 2011 a hearing will take place conducted by the General Medical Council:

Doctor Richard Scott found himself in hot holy water back in May this year after a patient's relative complained about him pushing his faith onto the patient in question. The GMC agreed with the patient's version of events and issue a warning letter which Dr Scott refused to accept. He wanted to keep doling out prayer prescriptions so he contacted the Christian Legal Centre and the above hearing is taking place to establish whether he deserves a warning or not.

The ECHURCH Blog says:

"On the face of it, it would appear that this “Official Warning” is unwarranted, if indeed the medical consultation was concluded and the discussion of faith was with consent."

No-one has access to the GMC files or decision making process. If a patient makes a complaint which concerns misconduct and the GMC has investigated it to the extent that they feel a warning is necessary then it has to be accepted "on the face of it" regardless of whether we feel the decision is right or wrong. This is because we do not have access to the full set of facts enabling us to decry the decision and support Dr Scott. If the discussion was with consent, there would have been no complaint worth taking. The fact a complaint was made demonstrates, on the face of it, that Dr Scott stepped over the line.

The TelegraphView says:

"Nevertheless, the mother of one of those with whom he raised it complained. Indeed, she was perfectly entitled to do so – but we cannot see how her complaint can be grounds for the GMC to take action against Dr Scott. After all, no one maintains that he ever forced religion on anyone, or that his faith ever impeded his ability to dispense medical care."

Again, we do not know the complaint detail so it is tricky to decide whether it was a meritous complaint or not. Considering the GMC thought it was a complaint worthy of warning Dr Scott over, perhaps we should accept that there were grounds. But if she was entitled to make a complaint, why wouldn't it be grounds for the GMC to take action? I suspect it was poor phrasing from the writer which made it look like they were contradicting themselves...

The bold type, emphasis mine, is pretty much what the complaint was about otherwise the GMC would not have investigated the complaint. There must have been an element of forcing his religion on the person subject to the complaint otherwise Dr Scott was playing by the rules. The GMC don't tend to raise phony cases.

So what did Dr Scott say about the matter? Here is a video clip of his version of events. Two comments stand out:

1) “I encourage people to come down to our local Church.”

This is, in my opinion, forcing his religion onto a person. Dr Scott does not want a general chat about faith; he wants people to join his Church. This is his words on the matter and he says he has offered it to thousands of patients. So, not a one off and clearly a demonstration of Dr Scott's motives which has impacted upon his duty to dispense medical care because he has caused harm/distress to a patient. That seems to me to be the reasoning behind the GMC decision based on the information available to us all. And the last part of the GMC hearing notice appears to state that they acknowledge his media comments on the subject to be an admission that this was the case:

"It is further alleged that Dr Scott subsequently confirmed, via national media, that he had sought to suggest his own faith had more to offer than that of the patient."

So there is clearly more going on within the investigation than just an innocent chat and hopefully the details will be released in good time.

2) “I offered a needy patient a way out of the situation”

Religious arrogance. Crikey... you can smell the smugness a mile away. The only way out of a medical situation, to my knowledge, is with medical intervention. This is how we have extended lifetimes and better quality of health. It's remind me of a quote:

Give a man a fish and he'll feed himself for a day. Give him a net and he can feed his family for lifetime. Give a man prayer and he'll die praying for a fish.

So we have motive of Dr Scott and the means to employ his brand of dogmatism. The GMC decision to warn him seems light in regards to the thousands he has "helped" in this way. His beliefs seem to drive his career; indeed Dr Scott used to be a missionary in Africa and this is not a criticism. It's a worthy endeavour. But if you allow religious beliefs to be a part of the scientific methodology of medicine then heed these words from a fellow GP:

Dr Shaba Nabi, a GP in Bristol, said:

"To even consider bringing religion into consultations is unacceptable. It's as bizarre as bringing up witchcraft or folklore. I'm extremely respectful of patients that are religious. That is their personal belief, but we shouldn't bring our personal beliefs into consultations."

And this is what it is all about. Imagine a Satanist GP offering 'tactful' advice to a patient who looked "needy". I imagine the Christians would not be so 'tolerant' then.

But this isn't a harmless story about the tooth fairy in a Dentist's surgery... imagine a Dentist who took the tooth-fairy literally!

Scary thought!

The Telegraph then proceed to slide into the typical victimisation routine containing irrelevancies, fallacies and bullshit... a reet ole' recipe!

"What, then, is the fuss about? The GMC's excessive reaction is part of a tendency: a number of institutions and companies have, in a misguided attempt to be "multicultural", banned Christian symbols and overt expressions of faith, something that would never be attempted in the case of other religions."

The GMC would have been more than aware of the spotlight on religion but chose to make a decision based on the evidence they held. There is even the inference that Dr Scott withheld information relevant to the investigation. 

The GMC actually supports, wrongly in my view, "offers of prayer" by medical staff. Hardly the actions of an organisation banning the Jesus Cult. Nor has the GMC stated that other faiths have more rights in this area than Christianity/

The writers of the articles simply jump to conclusions that do not exist. Classic signs of paranoia and don't the Christians just love to be victims!

"And yet the Christian faith is central to our country's history and our traditions. Its legacy is visible everywhere."

Yes, but in a secular society there is no longer any need to put Christianity above any other faith. That's sort of the point of secularism. But an argumentum ad antiquitatem is always on weak grounds. Society has changed and Christian church attendances are dropping. No reason to place Christianity above any other religion whatsoever.

"It is right that today, no one expects a person who holds positions of power and responsibility to be a practising Christian. But we appear to be heading towards an alarming situation in which the profession of faith becomes an active disqualification."

I have never heard of a case where someone has been sacked or treated differently for holding a private belief. Where that belief causes an issue within the law then there is an approach that is taken to put a stop to it. Where that belief contravenes a code of conduct you are damn right that it should be dealt with via the sanctions available. 

This would apply to Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Atheists alike; no-one should be subjected to questions about faith upon their admission to hospital because medical care is not there to pander to cultural desires.

People need to accept that medicine is going to help/save them, or at least make them comfortable, and that this will be done without preference to any one religion.

My gut instinct is that prayer is simply the offer of false consolation. I could point to studies which show that the efficacy of prayer is non-existent but this would offer some sort of admission that the point is worth discussing. It's not. 

Prayer simply does not work. Never has done.

Medical staff who think it does should be willing to place their heads above the parapet and leave the profession and set up ministries healing people and then compare their success rates with that of a hospital. The faith heads can then admit that prayer doesn't work and should be kept out of the medical profession once and for all.

My guess is that the challenge will not be accepted. Have a guess why?

1 comment:

Dave Smith said...

"Prayer never works". That's a very unscientific statement. You can only know that it never works if you have personally prayed all the prayers that have ever been prayed since human beings started to pray - and if you had never had one answered.

I have prayed, and some of my prayers have undoubtedly been answered. Amongst many answers to prayer, I was healed of a back complaint which had put me in hospital. I have seen a cripple walk after being prayed for. He had been unable to walk for 25 years after a pit accident. Within 15 minutes he was dancing with his wife.

What I find interesting is that you devote so much time to vilifying Christian belief, as if it was the worst thing in the world. Not all Christians are good adverts for the faith, but it's a fact that over 80% of the food banks in the UK are run by churches, and about the same percentage of youth clubs. Take out the voluntary work done by Christians, and this country would collapse in a heap. I think you could use your time better complaining about ISIL or Boko Haram. Even the most rabid creationist doesn't go around beheading people who disagree with them!

By the way, I am a creationist. I believe that I can show, even though I am not a scientist, that evolution is neither scientific nor proven. In fact, it is actually a religion - and its adherents are often far more fanatical than any evangelical Christian.

But that needs a rational discussion, which evolutionists rarely allow anyone who disagrees with them to take part in!