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Doctors, faith and trust

autumn 2007

From triple helix - autumn 2007 - Doctors, faith and trust [p5]

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Professionals and their personal beliefs

Shortly after the failed terrorist bombings in London and Glasgow at the end of June came a reliable report that an al-Qaeda leader in Iraq had earlier boasted that his group was going to attack UK targets, and that 'those who cure you will kill you'. [1] The original eight suspects were all young, Muslim, connected to the medical profession, and had come to Britain from Jordan, Iraq, other Middle Eastern countries and India. This particular story rapidly faded from the headlines, but the future security consequences are likely to make life even more difficult for overseas doctors.

Completely unrelated to these planned atrocities, the General Medical Council has been holding a consultation on its draft guidance on Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice. [2] It has advised that 'doctors may need to set aside personal and cultural preferences to provide effective patient care' and BMA News illustrated its notice of the consultation with a picture of an Islamic woman's face and the suggestion that face coverings might have to be removed to facilitate effective communication with patients. [3] CMF is making a corporate submission on this draft guidance suggesting that while it is constructive and generally uncontroversial it does raise questions of future interpretation, particularly about conscientious objection issues.

Turning away from questions of faith, though not necessarily abandoning its language, the British Medical Journal has been running a lively debate about whether there is a conspiracy between government and media to criticise doctors. In Why this unholy trinity? an editor suggested there is; [4] Professor Roger Jones countered from surveys of patient concerns that between 14-17% of patients with recent direct medical contact had reservations or negative opinions about the competence of doctors; [5] and the BMA head of Health Policy and Economic Research reaffirmed that annual surveys show 90% or so of the population trusts doctors to tell the truth, higher than for any other profession. [6]

'Trust me, I'm a doctor' may occasionally evoke hollow laughter, but it seems most patients do. Let us all strive to make 'Trust me, I'm a Christian doctor' even more credible.


  1. 2023024.ece
  2. draft.pdf
  3. BMA News 2007; 11 August:3
  4. Delamothe T. Editor's choice. BMJ 2007;335 (18 August)
  5. Jones R. Stance is worst type of spin. BMJ 2007; 335:465
  6. Ford J. Public trust in doctors undented. BMJ 2007; 335:465

Article written by Andrew Fergusson

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  • Liberalising abortion law
  • Modernising Medical Careers
  • Three threats
  • Doctors, faith and trust
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  • Parent training programmes
  • Not in my church? - child sex offenders
  • Growing up well
  • Hope in the midst of mayhem
  • Chaplain in the practice
  • Hardship, heaven and healthcare
  • Eutychus
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  • Transforming Care - A Christian Vision of Nursing Practice (Book Review)
  • The Morning After Pill (Book Review)
  • William Wilberforce - A Biography (Book Review)
  • Abolition - The struggle to abolish slavery in the British Colonies (Book Review)
  • On Eagles' Wings AND Patterns in the Sand (Book Reviews)
  • DVD: Romance Academy (Review)
  • News from abroad
  • Abortion – a Christian doctor's response
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