Nurse Sarah Kuteh fights dismissal for quizzing patients on their faith

16 December 2016

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A NURSING sister is bringing an Employment Tribunal claim against a Kent-based NHS trust, saying that she was unfairly dismissed for discussing her faith and offering to pray with patients.

Sister Sarah Kuteh was responsible for completing a pre-surgical patient questionnaire. One of the questions asked about the patient’s religion. When the patient responded by saying that they had none, she said that she would ask them why not.

“Some of them would say: ‘Well, I am not religious,’ ‘I’m heading for hell anyway,’ ‘I’m not a good person,’” she told ITV’s This Morning programme on Tuesday.

She said that she spoke about her faith with patients only with their consent. She told the programme: “How could you treat any patient — thinking how holistically we have to care for our patients — just looking at their physical needs, and not looking at their psychosocial and spiritual needs?”

Sister Kuteh, who has been a nurse for 15 years, told the Mail on Sunday at the weekend that she was warned by the hospital in April about her conduct, after complaints were made about unwanted conversations about her faith. She was dismissed in August after three further complaints were made.

The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, which employed Sister Kuteh before her dismissal, said that it fully supported the spiritual and religious needs of patients and staff, and had a multifaith chaplaincy and facilities to accommodate all beliefs.

In a statement, the Trust said: “We have a duty to our patients to ensure that when they are at their most vulnerable, they are not exposed to the unsolicited beliefs and/or views of others, religious or otherwise. Sarah Kuteh’s dismissal was not because of any religious belief she held but how these beliefs were being conveyed to patients. Following several com­plaints from patients that the conver­sa­­tions were . . . not consensual, her line manager directed her to con­centrate on her nursing duties and refrain from preaching to patients.

“Regrettably there was no change in her conduct and the Trust felt it had no option but to handle her behaviour through the disciplinary process which resulted in her dis­missal.”

The Trust, which received the Employment Tribunal claim on Mon­day, said that it had referred Sister Kuteh to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and that her actions breached the regulatory body’s code of conduct.

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