Welcome to the Secular Medical Forum

The Secular Medical Forum campaigns for a secular approach to current major health issues.

We are opposed to religious influences in Medicine where these adversely affect the manner in which medical practice is performed. We campaign to protect patients from the harm caused by the imposition of religious values and activities on people who do not share the same values and beliefs.

The SMF directs itself to the improvement of the human condition. SMF members do not recognise the assumed authority of religious bodies and we challenge their traditional privileges in healthcare service provision or decision-making.

Membership of the Secular Medical Forum is open to all health care professionals in the UK and their respective students. Non health care professionals are welcome to join the SMF as associate members. Please contact Dr Antony Lempert at antony@secularmedicalforum.org.uk.

Latest News

SMF & NSS response to GMC consultation on personal beliefs 2012

19 Jun 2012

The Secular Medical Forum and the National Secular Society made a joint response to the General Medical Council’s consultation on personal beliefs in medical practice:

SMF and NSS joint response to GMC consultation on personal beliefs and medical practice 11 June 2012

(pdf)

Share

GMC formally warns Dr Scott for evangelising a patient

14 Jun 2012

GMC formally warns Dr Scott for evangelising a patient

We welcome the GMC’s determination making it clear that doctors – whether religious or not – must set aside their own personal beliefs and not evangelise when treating patients, far less suggest that they adopt a different belief. Doing so needlessly puts patients in a difficult position.

There is no reliable evidence that any belief system has benefited health. Basing treatment on this premise is therefore potentially harmful to the patient and to the doctor-patient relationship.

Patients consult their doctors for their professional expertise and not for their doctor’s religious beliefs. For GPs to share their own religious beliefs during consultations is almost always inappropriate; attempts to proselytise or to claim one or other religion as somehow better than another is unprofessional and should never take place. Doing so puts often vulnerable patients into the uncomfortable position of feeling the need to take account of their doctor’s beliefs. Some patients may feel unable or unwilling to contradict the doctor because of the power imbalance between doctor and patient. Should a patient raise religious matters during a consultation, the doctor must not take this as an opportunity to evangelise, but if appropriate may explore the patient’s own ideas and concerns.

The allegation made by Dr Scott that the GMC has specifically targeted Christianity is perverse. The GMC and many members of the public have been given great cause for concern by the unfounded claims that Dr Scott has made to this patient, and has admitted he has made to thousands more. We would fully expect the GMC to take similar action against doctors of all faiths or none who behaved in a similarly inappropriate fashion and who risked undermining the confidence of the public in the professionalism of medical practitioners.

We also oppose publicly-funded NHS General Practices being labelled as being of any religion or belief. Labelling General Practices as being of any one belief system risks giving patients the impression that only such patients will be welcomed, and that other patients are, at best, tolerated. This puts unacceptable pressure on some patients to decide whether to actively opt out of spiritual care, as they are invited to do in Dr Scott’s practice, or go along with the religious element for fear of alienation. Forcing such a dilemma on patients undermines the doctor-patient relationship – a relationship based primarily on trust. Particularly where there is a limited choice of GPs, this compromises patients’ entitlement to publicly-funded medical treatment.

 

GMC Statement  http://www.gmc-uk.org/news/13333.asp

Share

GMC Consults on Assisted Suicide

06 Apr 2012

The GMC is now consulting on draft guidance regarding allegations about a doctor’s involvement in encouraging or assisting a suicide. The consultation will end in early May.

The law states that assisting suicide is a criminal offence and the DPP’s guidance is that doctors who assist are more likely to be prosecuted than lay members of the public. The GMC is now formulating policy to interpret the law.

The draft GMC guidance recommends that doctors approached by their patients with questions about Dignitas in Switzerland or with requests for their medical records in anticipation of travel to Switzerland should be told that the doctor can neither discuss nor comply with the request.

Have your say and respond to the consultation which ends on 4th May. The consultation can be accessed here:

GMC consultation on Assisted Suicide

Share

Dr Peter Wilmshurst speaks to Secular Medical Forum on Dishonesty in Medicine

26 Jun 2011

On Sunday 26th June 2011 in Cardiff, the SMF hosted Dr Peter Wilmshurst, consultant cardiologist and winner of the 2003 Healthwatch award. Dr Wilmshurst spoke about ‘Dishonesty in Medicine’ at an SMF welcome reception for BMA Representatives and their guests at the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM).

Read more…

Share

SMF demonstrates at BMA Annual Representatives Meeting in Cardiff

25 Jun 2011

Non-therapeutic surgery on the sexual organs of male minors was on the agenda at the BMA ARM in Cardiff. But it was sidelined as not of sufficient importance to be debated as of right.

A peaceful demonstration, reported by the BBC here took place outside the conference venue on Monday 27th June 2011 asking BMA representatives to choose this motion for debate and asking the BMA why they have chosen not to debate this important topic.

Read more…

Share

Secular Medical Forum and National Secular Society submit response to Interim Policy on Assisted Suicide

13 Jan 2011

In December 2009, the SMF and the NSS jointly submitted a response to the Director of Public Prosecution’s Interim Policy for Prosecutors on Assisted Suicide. The consultation followed the ruling in the House of Lords in the Debbie Purdy case that the existing law should be clarified. Our submission is available to read on the resources section of the website. The DPP published his final policy in early 2010.

Share

SMF lobbies General Pharmaceutical Council for change to Code of Conduct

10 Jan 2011

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is a new regulatory body for pharmacists. The SMF responded to the consultation exercise by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE) in January. Our full response is available to read on the resources section of the website.

The SMF was disappointed to hear that the GPhC intends to allow pharmacists with strong personal religious beliefs to opt out of providing some services to patients. Patients’ needs should take priority over the views of professional healthcare providers who have freely chosen their profession. We will continue to lobby for a code of conduct similar to the code produced by the GMC for medical practitioners.

Pharmacists should be prepared to set aside their own views if that is what is in the best interests of patients.

Share

SMF submits response to GMC Consultation of Child Protection

23 Sep 2010

On 23th September 2010 the SMF submitted its response to the GMC consultation on child protection. Our full response is available to read on the resources section of this website. We urged the GMC to offer explicit guidance to help doctors to distinguish between inappropriate challenge to their patients’ beliefs and necessary challenge to cultural or religious practices harmful to children.

Share