Dr. Dermot Kearney, FEAMC Congress, Porto, October 2016

Young Doctors and Students 

A young Polish doctor working in the UK was asked to prescribe the drugs required for a woman preparing for an abortion. She refused to do so as she was a devout Catholic. She explained this to the ward manager who tried in vain to undermine her moral stance. As a result, it was felt necessary to call in the consultant to deal with this unprecedented situation. He was not pleased. The young doctor was severely reprimanded before the entire ward and was brought to tears. She was informed that doctors like her “should not be allowed to work in this country.”

This incident from my workplace compelled me to seek out some organisation that would provide support for Catholic doctors, enabling them to remain faithful to their beliefs and yet continue to work successfully in the NHS. Nobody should face this kind of pressure alone.

Working in the NHS can be difficult for young Catholic doctors and medical students. They are sometimes subjected to hostility and, even worse, ridicule for standing up for their beliefs. For some the pressure can be too much to bear.

The Catholic Medical Association (UK) provides support for our young doctors and students through branch meetings, national conferences, participation in debates, our publications, a much-­‐visited website and a 7-­‐day phone help line. More needs to be done at both local and national levels. Many are unaware of their rights in relation to conscientious objection. These challenges and some practical suggestions are explored in detail.