Doctors have rejected calls for them to be given a right to pray for patients without facing disciplinary action.
At the British Medical Association conference in Liverpool doctors debated a motion calling for medics to be allowed to discuss spiritual issues with patients.
However, delegates refused to back the proposal. The GMC code suggests that discussing religion can be part of care provided to patients - as long as the individual’s wishes are respected.
Earlier this year the Department of Health issued guidance warning about proselytising.
It said that discussing religion with patients could be interpreted as an attempt to convert which could be construed as a form of harassment.
Last year community nurse Caroline Petrie was suspended by North Somerset NHS Trust after offering to pray for a patient, although she was later allowed to return to work.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: ‘The BMA conference has been very sensible in refusing give this unfettered permission to religious doctors to offer prayers to patients.
‘The restrictions are there for a very important reason - to protect patients from embarrassment, irritation and possible conflict with their doctor.’
Should health care workers pray for their patients?