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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Catholic hospital dilemma

30th March 2006

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O' Connor has asked the St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in north London to tighten up its code of ethics. The Catholic hospital has been admonished by the leader of the church in England and Wales for referring patients for abortions and contraceptives.

The private hospital says no abortions are undertaken or contraceptives prescribed on the premises, but it argues its doctors are obliged to refer people elsewhere for advice. 

A spokeswoman for the hospital said under the General Medical Council code of practice the doctors must provide information to patients who request abortions or contraceptives. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor asked a Catholic peer to investigate complaints that Catholic teaching was not being upheld at the hospital.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster said the hospital's own code of ethics needed to be set out in a clearer way so that even doctors who were not Catholic knew what their obligations were at the institution.

Lord Bridgeman, the hospital's chairman said that they accept Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's recommendation that they review their code of ethics. He stressed that their duty of care to patients remains paramount.

A spokeswoman for the General Medical Council said that if doctors felt unable to offer a certain kind of treatment because of their beliefs they were obliged to inform the patient of this and inform them of their right to see another doctor.


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