The test of liability for medical negligence in the UK is that in Hunter v Hanley, or Bolam. Against a case of negligence for choosing a particular treatment, or a failure to treat, there is a defence if
the doctor has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body…of professional opinion.
If an outmoded and ineffectual treatment is still chosen by a minority of old-fashioned practitioners, then there is no liability on the doctor for choosing it.
In the light of the Equality Act, the General Medical Council is revising its guidance on personal beliefs:
5 You may choose to opt out of providing a particular procedure because of your personal beliefs and values. But you must not refuse to treat a particular patient, or group of patients because of your personal beliefs or views about them. And you must not refuse to treat the health consequences of lifestyle choices to which you object because of your beliefs.
The Daily Mail got in a complete tizzy about this: Christian doctors forced to carry out sex change operations!! Indeed, those seeking gender reassignment (as opposed to the larger group who are gender variant) are protected under the Equality Act, but a surgeon has a choice of what operations s/he will train to perform. More generally, a doctor cannot refuse to refer to a gender clinic, or refer for speech therapy and perhaps hair removal if the health authority will pay for it, where the entire scientific and medical consensus is that reassignment is the correct treatment. Previously, a bigot could refer his patient to a colleague, which I might prefer, but can no longer.
It is disturbing that someone would say “Christianity” prevents him from properly practising the profession of doctor, and giving the treatment which proper doctors give. That is a Christianity from Hell, and not from Heaven. Also, it is disturbing that someone would practise as a doctor without sympathy for his patients. However, the Mail managed to find a doctor who feared that he would be forced to treat against his “conscience”. Only twenty gender recognition certificates are issued each month, so he is unlikely to see one of us.
What the Mail does is seek out “It’s the end of the World as we know it” stories on the most spurious grounds. What are the threats? What are the reasons for me to
Always keep a hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse?
This is a bad habit, and too common: how did I find out about the Mail article? Because trans folk were discussing it on Facebook, looking at how hostile people might be to us. When I recognised it in myself I called it slime-hoovering, seeking out and sucking up the slime to justify a fearful, constrained existence. I do it less, now I have seen it in me. I still err on the side of slime hoovering rather than unreasonable optimism, I think.
It is one of the reasons why I have any time at all for the “law of attraction”: being open to opportunity and blessing in the world has to be better.