Faith matters in healthcare

Faith matters in healthcare
By Graham McAll
Christian Medical Fellowship. 192 pages. £8.00
ISBN 978 0 906 747 414

The issue of whether Christian healthcare professionals should share their faith with patients and colleagues has been highlighted by the case of a GP who has been reprimanded by the General Medical Council (GMC) for discussing his Christian beliefs with a patient. In this context a book that explores these issues is timely.

The book seeks to explore the importance of faith and worldview; to unpack how such issues can be raised with patients; how the clinicians’ own faith can be shared with patients and colleagues, and how such interventions can be used to the good of patients in a variety of situations. This is done in 21 short chapters using a collection of anecdotes from healthcare professionals as well as the author’s comments and reflections from the perspective of an experienced GP.

The chapters on the importance of exploring a patient’s faith and worldview are very helpful and illuminating. The author outlines how spiritual perspectives can affect health beliefs and outcomes — in both physical and mental health. He also looks at ways in which a ‘spiritual history’ can be taken and when this is likely to be welcomed by patients.

The author quotes from the GMC guidelines and echoes the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) advice that faith issues should be raised sensitively, with permission and respect. There are many references to how the author has been able to achieve this professionally. It is apparent that the author has extensive experience of raising spiritual matters with patients and it would have been helpful to be able to have had his wisdom and advice drawn together in one section of the book.

Sometimes the use of anecdotes without comment was less helpful, as it wasn’t always clear whether the author considered them examples to be followed or avoided. The author himself suggests these anecdotes might be a basis for discussion. Day conferences such as the CMF’s ‘Saline Solution’ days provide a setting where clinicians can discuss living out and sharing their faith in the workplace and can further sharpen their abilities to witness to Christ.

Dr. Harriet Strain, 
GP, St. Albans