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Prayer for patients

Published: 29th June 2009

In the latest eNewsletter, we drew to members' attention the BMA ARM agenda items on safeguarding spiritual care for patients. The story has attracted significant media coverage, mainly featuring CMF member Bernadette Birtwhistle who has been asked by the BMA to propose the following composite motion:

    That this Meeting:
  • (i) recognises that the NHS is committed to providing spiritual care for patients;
  • (ii) notes the position on inappropriate discussion of faith matters in GMC Guidance on Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice;
  • (iii) while welcoming the constructive and necessary advice in the document "Religion or belief", is concerned that some paragraphs suggest that any discussion of spiritual matters with patients or colleagues could lead to disciplinary action;
  • (iv) believes that offering to pray for a patient should not be grounds for suspension;
  • (v) calls on Health Departments to allow appropriate consensual discussion of spiritual matters within the NHS, when done with respect for the views and sensitivities of individuals.

(Sheffield Division has been asked to propose this motion)

Contrary to some claims reported in the media, this motion has not been 'orchestrated by a small group of evangelical activists', but is a genuine grass roots response to cases like that of Caroline Petrie.

Please follow the links to the generally sympathetic media coverage:

Doctors allowed to pray with patients? The BMA will debate this at a conference Wed July 1st 2009
BBC Radio 4 - June 28

Doctors want right to talk faith
BBC News - June 28

Doctors want right to pray for patients without fear of reprisal
Daily Mail - June 29

Doctors: 'Let us pray for patients'
Guardian - June 29

'In hospital, you can't farm out religion as if it were catering'
Telegraph - June 29

Debate: prayer for patients
Times online - July 01

For further information:

Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668

Media Enquiries:

Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225

About CMF:

Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.

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