Praying nurse is reinstated

12 February 2009

by Ed Beavan

Back at work and prayer: Mrs Petrie at her home in Weston-super-Mare PA

Back at work and prayer: Mrs Petrie at her home in Weston-super-Mare PA

A community nurse, Caroline Petrie, who was suspended after offering to pray for an elderly patient (News, 6 February), will now be permitted to pray for those in her care, providing they ask for spiritual support.

Mrs Petrie, from Weston-super-Mare, was allowed to return to work by North Somerset NHS Trust late last week. The Trust said it felt it was correct in investigating Mrs Petrie’s actions, but was “keenly aware of the importance of an individual’s spir­itual belief”. Its statement said: “It is acceptable to offer spiritual support as part of care when the patient asks for it.”

Speaking to the Church Times on Tuesday, Mrs Petrie said she did not regret her actions, and gave thanks for the groundswell of support she had received from Christians around the world. “The Trust has said I can ask patients for prayer within the boundaries of the care plan, which means I have to ask if they have faith and spiritual needs, and if they say ‘Yes’, I can pray for them, and even give them Christian literature.

“I’ve had an amazing response from my church and from people around the world. I’ve received letters and emails from as far afield as Crete, Switzerland, America, and Africa.

“It’s great that I don’t have to divorce my faith from my nursing career, and they’re allowing me to incorporate it in my work. I don’t regret anything, and I just feel that everyone’s prayers have carried me. I’ve felt peace and joy all the way through, and my conscience is clear.”

Carer struck off. The decision by a local authority to remove a Christian from the fostering register, after a girl in her care converted from Islam to Christianity, has been described as “chilling”. It has been seen by some as the latest in a series of overreactions by “diversity bureaucrats”, according to Mike Judge of the Christian Institute.

The charity is backing the foster mother as she contests the decision. Mr Judge said the council’s decision affected her livelihood: “For this carer, fostering is her life and her only source of income, and she’s lost all of that as a result of someone changing a religious belief. It’s got to the case where Christians are really suffering. Freedom of religion has got to be at the heart of a democracy, and there is no suggestion of co­ercion.”

The carer and local authority involved cannot be named, in order to protect the child, who is 17.

Mr Judge said that the carer was seeking an amicable resolution to the situation, but, if that failed, his organisation would be backing her in a High Court judicial review of the decision to strike her off the fostering register.

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)