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Inappropriate praying: nurse loses her appeal over sacking

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.

19 responses to “Inappropriate praying: nurse loses her appeal over sacking”

  1. remigius says:

    “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.”

    So, just like the gospels then.

  2. Playonwords says:

    To show how much I sympathise I’ll pray for her, not to any deity or spirit just for her and see how much good that does

  3. tonye says:

    Kuteh stated on her video that ‘the Lord has been so faithful to me’.

    Up until the appeal panel it would appear.

  4. remigius says:

    “Up until the appeal panel it would appear.”

    Maybe the patients were praying for her to lose her appeal – and God answered those prayers. Has she considered that?

  5. CoastalMaineBird says:

    “I’ll pray for her”
    You shouldn’t need to.
    I mean, the great and powerful Oz God will get about smitin’ these folks real soon now.
    He don’t need your prayers to tell him to…

  6. CoastalMaineBird says:

    Has she considered that?
    They never ever do.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Christian Concern make her actions seem so innocent:

    Sarah is a Christian nurse who was dismissed by the NHS after she spoke to patients about her faith, and occasionally offered prayer.

    On another page they say:

    Sarah’s job involved asking about patients’ faith, as part of a pre-assessment questionnaire.

    http://www.christianconcern.com/sarah-kuteh

    None of this bears any relation to what was actually going on!

  8. remigius says:

    I’ve just read the transcripts from her appeal.

    Patient – It hurts.
    Nurse – You need some Jesus in your life.
    Patient – I need some medicine.
    Nurse – Jesus makes the pain go away.
    Patient – I just need som…
    Nurse – Come. We pray together.
    Patient – Please, the medicine. The pain…
    Nurse – STOP PERSECUTING ME!

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Good.

    There are any number of decent, selfless and dedicated trained nurses who can’t get jobs in the UK because of health service cutbacks. Now one will because this waste of space isn’t blocking beds.

    Also, nurses don’t get referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council for possible disqualification unless there is some pretty serious concern about their conduct – usually stuff like drug abuse or violence. It is not a step taken lightly, and the nursing profession protects its members from scapegoating by knee-jerking NHS managers and the like, so there may be even more to this than has come out.

  10. tonye says:

    Remigius,

    For nurse you could, just as easily, submit Mother Teresa and no change is required in the dialog!

  11. StephenJP says:

    Christian Concern have taken on dozens of such cases over the past few years, and lost nearly all of them. They do not have charitable status (and have no chance of getting it), so how can they afford so many failed actions? As far as I can glean from media reports, they get a lot of small donations from the gullible; but also rely on a cadre of committed Christian lawyers who give their services pro bono.

    This somehow doesn’t seem a complete account. Do they have to pay the costs of the many cases they lose? If so, how? Why are they not now bankrupt? Why are their tame lawyers not compromising their own ability to represent all clients without fear or favour?

    God does indeed move in mysterious ways.

  12. barriejohn says:

    She’s lost her appeal all right.

    Stephen: Others have often asked the same questions, and no one seems to be sure of the answers.

    http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/004971.html

    The comments are interesting, too.

  13. Brian Jordan says:

    @barriejohn
    On another page they say:
    Sarah’s job involved asking about patients’ faith, as part of a pre-assessment questionnaire.

    That’s a gross misrepresentation. When they’ve asked me, they consistently ask – as if reading the words from the form they’re filling in = “Do you have any religion?”.
    They also ask what medication I’m on – and if they started urging me to change it, without consulting a doctor, they’d be in trouble.

  14. 1859 says:

    The separation of church and state – the separation of church and medical knowledge. It was the christian church that, for centuries, stifled medical progress by forbidding the dissection of cadavers. Doctors just had no idea until well into the 18th century how the internal organs functioned, how they were interdependent etc. Religion has always had a stranglehold on the rational understanding of the world, and prayer being ‘stronger’ than medicine is just one vestige.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: It’s disingenuous, which is why I highlighted it. It’s no business of theirs what faith, if any, patients have, other than to keep a record of it. And she wasn’t disciplined for “occasionally offering prayer” (even though she shouldn’t have). Do they think we’re stupid?

  16. tom80 says:

    It’s pointless the NHS asking what religion you are for their records as once the have this information they are not allowed to pass it on to anyone due to the data protection act. I have a close relative who is a Catholic Priest and in his parish he has a large hospital which serves a large area. He constantly gets called by relatives of patients who are practising Catholics as to why he has not visited their relative in hospital. When he tells them that he did not know they were in hospital nearly all say “but he/she told the hospital he/she was a catholic” and think the hospital will pass on this to him. Why bother to ask the question.

  17. remigius says:

    Tom80. The NHS are not a messenger service for the various cults. They have more important work to do – like taking care of the sick.

    If your magic friend in the sky really is omniscient then he/she/it already knew who was in hospital. Why didn’t he/she/it pass on the message to the priest?

  18. Stephen Mynett says:

    Pateients who state a religion are usually asked if they want to be visited by a representative of said religion and if yes someone is called. Surely if patients are regular church-goers their church would know anyway.

    The catholics used to be, probably still are, on a nice little earner with hospitals as they charge them for administering the last rites.

  19. StephenJP says:

    @barriejohn, thanks for the link. I had seen something similar elsewhere, but I agree the comments are interesting. I guess CC must be partly bankrolled by the bottomless pockets of the US evangelical community. I suppose it is too much to hope for to think that CC’s never-ending litigation losses might eventually make a hole in the US loonie-banks.