AN OXFORD doctor who has admitted using Christian beliefs as a ‘complementary therapy’ for patients has been suspended by a medical watchdog.
The General Medical Council (GMC), one of the highest medical authorities in the land, has suspended Dr Mark Huckstep for 18 months.
Dr Huckstep last worked at Wolvercote Surgery and Kendall Crescent Health Centre, in North Oxford, in 2010.
He was suspended by NHS Oxfordshire, the county’s health authority, in August of that year after concerns were raised over his time-keeping and record management.
Dr Huckstep has been suspended while the GMC investigates whether he should face a Fitness to Practice panel – a move which could see him struck off for a minimum of five years. No details have been released of the nature of the investigation.
Dr Huckstep was last night unavailable for comment.
In October the married father, a devout Evangelist, admitted to the Oxford Mail that he believed his Christianity could be treated as a form of “complementary therapy” in addition to usual treatment, and that he refused to refer women for abortions.
According to the 1967 Abortion Act, doctors are free to opt out of involvement with abortion.
NHS Oxfordshire later confirmed there were four official complaints received about Dr Huckstep between 2007/08 and 2009/10 – two of which had ‘religious components’.
At the time Dr Huckstep said he fully acknowledged the administrative failings that led to his suspension. But he said: “However, issues of integrity and truth are so important that they need frank discussion, even from a doctor who has been fairly criticised on other issues.”
He continued: “If the patient consented, then I was free to discuss more metaphysical issues such as the meaning of their lives, their struggles with feelings of guilt, shame and meaninglessness, their fear of death, etc, and to suggest books that may help in confronting these issues.
“Such discussions were always in addition to normal treatment, if time allowed. They were not instead of normal modes of treatment.”
Last night the GMC confirmed its Interim Order Panel had suspended Dr Huckstep for 18 months ‘subject to review’.
NHS Oxfordshire said it had referred his case to the GMC in July 2010.
A spokesman said: “Since July 2010 he has not been be permitted to provide NHS GP services in Oxfordshire.”
Previously, the county’s primary care trust NHS Oxfordshire said the GP could return to work under strict conditions, which included undertaking a retraining programme.