Christian Neurologist Cleared after a three-year investigation for 'pro-life values'

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: February 9, 2024

Rev. Dr. Patrick Pullicino, a neurologist and Catholic priest has been vindicated by the General Medical Council (GMC) after a three-year investigation for allegedly giving a bias opinion due to his 'pro-life values'.

Dr. Pullicino was reported to the GMC in 2021 by Celia Kitzinger, a 'Right to Die' campaigner who claimed that the expert opinion given by Dr. Pullicino was biased because he was a Catholic and had expressed "pro-life values" in the courtroom. 

In her written complaint to the GMC, Ms. Kitzinger accused Dr. Pullicino of bias for "trying to save a patient's life", whom he "may have deliberately misdiagnosed ... in the hope of saving his life".

The background of the accusation is Dr. Pullicino's assistance in an end-of-life case, where he argued for the potential recovery of the patient if life-sustaining treatment, nutrition and fluids were not removed. The family of the patient "PS", who was taken to hospital after a heart attack, asked Dr. Pullicino to intervene after the University Hospital Plymouth had withdrawn all life-sustaining treatment. The hospital argued that this was "in the best interest" of the patient. In court, Dr. Pullicino pointed out that RS had been recovering faster than expected and therefore had increaed chances of recovering to the point of achieving independence, if further treated. His opinion was, however, turned down and the patient died of dehydration and starvation.

After three years of investigation into 'his fitness to practice' (based solely on Ms. Kitzinger's complaint), Dr. Pullicino was finally vindicated in February 2024. Responding to Ms. Kitzinger's accusation the GMC concluded that "Dr. Pullicino is an experienced Consultant Neurologist, with specialist registration and a license to practice, and we have no evidence to suggest that he lacks competence to assess a patient's level of consciousness." The GMC further stated: "No evidence was adduced to support the allegation that Dr. Pullicino's religious faith or personal beliefs affected his opinion on Patient RS."

Dr. Pullicino said that the case was "a clear discriminatory attack on the medical opinion I gave because I am a Catholic Priest and believe medical professionals should do everything possible to save another human's life." Her further commented: "The GMC should never have allowed an investigation to proceed against me, which was so clearly targeted against and based on my religious beliefs. I am concerned that it has taken so long for me to be vindicated and cleared."

Sources: CNA, Christian Concern

Image: Christian Concern