Dr Mike Delany gave a wonderful talk entitled – Surviving as a Catholic in 21st Century Healthcare. This is a huge topic with lots to think about, but the main points were as follows:
The values that Catholic medics hold are not just for Catholics as many have similar views but have arrived at them through reason. The GMC recognises the need for all medics to practice in line with their beliefs stating, “We don’t wish to prevent doctors from practising in line with their beliefs and values, as long as they follow the guidance in Good Medical Practice” and “Doctors may practice medicine in accordance with their beliefs provided they act in accordance with the relevant legislation.”
The law does not require doctors to provide treatments or procedures that they have assessed as not being clinically appropriate or not of overall benefit to the patient. You may also choose to opt out of providing a particular procedure because of your personal beliefs and values, as long as this does not result in discrimination against patients. This formed a big part of the discussion trying to get underneath the difference between objections to procedures across the board versus objections to providing procedures to specific people. One could reasonably be a form of Conscientious Objection with the other possibly being discrimination.
Thinking about areas that doctors may wish to Conscientiously Object, Dr Delany explained the need for doctors to make themselves aware of contractual requirements and suggested that it is always better to aim to negotiate locally. Again, another suggestion was to make patients aware of conscientious objection via practice leaflets/website etc where appropriate and reasonable.
When considering the impact Conscientious Objection could have on colleagues and patients, the general approach should be one of openness and honesty with colleagues and for patients it is crucial they understand that they have the right to a second opinion.
The discussion was lively throughout with lots of examples from the audience. It was fantastic to hear all the practical scenarios that people had experienced. The feedback from the day was that it provided an invaluable opportunity to look at some scenarios deeper and get suggestions from colleagues on how best to proceed.
Many thanks to all who attended and for their interaction on the day.