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A British physician who asked a patient whether he had considered putting his faith in Jesus has come under the scrutiny of a medical board.

However, the complaining patient has not shown up for hearings, prompting concern as to why the matter has not been dropped.

Dr. Richard Scott says he counseled the 24-year-old, who has been described as “suicidal” and “vulnerable,” at the end of a medical consultation at his office, according to testimony heard by the General Medical Council on Thursday.

Dr. Scott says he asked the patient’s permission before sharing his personal faith. After allegedly being told “go for it” by the patient, Scott is said to have told him faith in Christ could help him overcome personal problems.

However, the 51-year-old doctor “crossed the line” in discussing his own personal religious beliefs with a vulnerable patient and even went on to suggest he might benefit from converting to a different Christian faith, said Paul Ozin, counsel for the medical board.

The patient said in his complaint that he left the exam “very upset” and felt Scott had “belittled” his own faith.

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, the hearing was told.

The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her about the incident. The medical board offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning in Dr. Scott’s file.

However, the matter went to a full hearing when the doctor challenged that decision on the grounds that such official warning is unwarranted and would tarnish his reputation.

At Thursday’s hearing, Dr Scott had expected to confront the patient concerning details of the incident, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to attend.

The advocacy group Christian Concern is concerned that the board is pursuing the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors. Without the right to cross-examine a complainant, doctors are “extremely vulnerable to allegations” since most exams are conducted in private.

Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre expressed concern that the board appeared “determined” to punish Dr. Scott.

The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the board’s Investigatory Committee.

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