Christian doctors could be at risk of “vexatious complaints” following a leaflet which has been produced by the General Medical Council (GMC) and homosexual lobby group, Stonewall.
The leaflet, titled, ‘Protecting patients: your rights as lesbian, gay and bisexual people’, has been part funded by the Department of Health.
It gives detailed advice to gay, lesbian and bisexual patients about how to lodge a formal complaint against a doctor if they felt discriminated against.
A number of Christian medical professionals have got into trouble for talking about faith even though the rules allow appropriate discussion of personal beliefs.
Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship said it goes without saying that doctors “have a duty to serve their patients according to their healthcare need without partiality or discrimination on any basis”.
But he raised concerns that in the current environment the leaflet “will be used to make vexatious complaints against doctors who take a traditional Christian view on sexual ethics”.
Dr Saunders said: “We have already seen an escalation of civil liberties cases under the Equality Act brought against counsellors and adoption advisors who have not wanted to participate in sexual counselling or adoption involving same-sex couples.”
He continued: “The referral pathways for such services often involve GPs as the first point of contact who, should they prefer not to be involved, could well become the subject of a complaint leading to an enquiry, investigation or disciplinary proceeding.”
“But what concerns me most”, Dr Saunders commented, “is the fact that one minority group (LGB people) seems to be getting special treatment from both the General Medical Council and Department of Health”.
He also pointed out that the leaflet makes no mention of a doctor’s right to freedom of conscience, or the right to hold or express beliefs provided it is done in a sensitive manner, despite the fact that these rights are acknowledged in other GMC documents.
Last month new GMC draft guidance suggested that doctors who refuse to provide ‘sex change’ operations could be struck off.
The guidance, ‘Personal beliefs and medical practice’, is subject to consultation.