Picture this: You’re a 24 year old man who is feeling tired and in a rut, you suspect that something is wrong and that you might be suffering from something whether that be depression or low blood sugar. You decide to visit your GP for a check out and during the consultation the doctor suggests that you might find solace in Jesus (or Ganesha, Odin or the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you’re a Christian). What do you think of that? Do you think “Hang on, I came here for a medical opinion. WTF?” because I would.
Embarrassingly your mum makes a complaint. I say embarrassingly because mums are supposed to embarrass you, especially when you’re 24. The story ends up in the Daily Mail, a quality newspaper as anyone will tell you, and the doctor faces being struck off. Do you sympathise with the doctor?
Someone comes to you for professional advice. It is incumbent on the professional to act accordingly and to maintain that professional relationship. Trying to sell timeshares to a villa, coming on to them or pushing your religion are just not on. There are other things that aren’t on but these are the three that spring to mind.
But Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘Our guidance is clear. Doctors should not normally discuss their personal beliefs with patients unless those beliefs are directly relevant to the patient’s care.
‘They also must not impose their beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views.’
That seems fair to me.