Inappropriate praying: nurse loses her appeal over sacking
Last year, Sarah Kuteh, above, complained that she was being persecuted for her Christian beliefs after she was sacked by Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, following a series of complaints from patients.
She appealed against her sacking, but this week Victoria Leivers-Carruth, who chaired the hospital trust’s appeal hearing, said the panel believed Kuteh had used her one-to-one time with patients to “impose her religious beliefs” on them.
She said in a statement:
We did not believe that Mrs Kuteh was being disciplined because she was a Christian. It was apparent to us that Mrs Kuteh was disciplined because she had engaged in conversations about religion that were unwanted by patients and contrary to her line manager’s instructions.
One cancer patient said the nursing sister, who has 15 years’ experience, told him he would have a better chance of survival if he prayed to God.
Another told how being subjected to such religious “fervour” by the mother-of-three was “bizarre”, and compared the experience to a “Monty Python skit”.
One other patient felt Kuteh spent more time talking about religion than completing a pre-operative questionnaire, according to statements submitted to the tribunal.
Eight complaints were made by “extremely vulnerable” patients facing surgery and the nursing sister was sacked last August before being referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council for disqualification proceedings.
Pavel Stroilov, who represented Kuteh, said in skeleton argument that nurses were meant to care for people facing hardship and suffering.
A nurse without compassion would be unworthy of the name. On top of performing her immediate duties, a good nurse would try and find kind words to say to her patient.
But Sarah Collins, general manager for medicine at Darent Valley Hospital, who chaired the nurse’s first disciplinary hearing, said her “spirituality blurred the professional boundary” between herself and patients.
In a statement she said:
Despite having been warned against such behaviour on two occasions, she persisted with questioning patients on religious grounds.
Collins added there had been a “fundamental breach of trust and confidence”. She also felt Mrs Kuteh had not learned from her mistakes and would not change her behaviour.
Mrs Kuteh’s assertion that she felt compelled to continue to hold religious discussions with patients concerned me.
But Stroilov said the nurse was not “adequately informed” of the allegations against her by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust before an investigatory meeting.
He added the substantive evidence of patients’ complaints was “wholly unsatisfactory”, consisting mainly of “astonishingly brief and vague handwritten notes” made long after the events.
Stroilov also said Kuteh’s request to call the complainants as witnesses was unreasonably refused on a “false premise” of confidentiality.
Before the hearing, Kuteh said she had no intention of imposing her beliefs on others, but she would sometimes tell patients how her own faith in Christ had helped her overcome adversity.
Giving evidence at the tribunal, Kuteh denied imposing her religion on patients.
I’m serious about my religion but I don’t think I imposed my religion on patients.
She said she would sometimes be prompted to initiate religious discussion with patients by questions on the pre-op questionnaire.
But Leivers-Carruth said the appeal panel was satisfied the questions about religion on the questionnaire would not prompt the type of further religious discussion that occurred with Kuteh.
Kuteh’s case represents yet another of Christian Concern’s lost causes. CC posted a video of Kuteh babbling about God on its website ahead of the her appeal.