Tribunal hearing for nurse sacked after offering to pray for patient
The nurse who was sacked for offering to pray for a patient will appear at an employment tribunal tomorrow (Thursday)
An employment tribunal for Sister Sarah Kuteh, a nurse with 15 years' experience who was dismissed for gross misconduct in August 2016 by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, is set to take place in Ashford, Kent.
Ms Kuteh, who is a Christian, had been working in the pre-op assessment team at Darent Valley Hospital, when the trust received complaints about the way she conveyed her religion to patients.
She has now made a claim for unfair dismissal, seeking reinstatement and compensation, with a tribunal set to begin on Thursday in Ashford, Kent.
The case relates to when Ms Kuteh transferred to a pre-op assessment team, where she said part of her job was to complete a pre-operation questionnaire. This included a question about religion to ensure any religious requirements were understood prior to surgery.
Investigation into complaints
Ms Kuteh said that she received a letter in April 2016 informing her that such discussions could only take place at the patient’s request.
An investigation was launched after more complaints came to light, which led to her dismissal.
Ms Kuteh said she was told a patient had complained to nurses about being given a Bible, which was not wanted, and that Ms Kuteh had said she would pray for the patient, although she had only done so after the patient expressed an interest.
In a statement issued through the Christian Legal Centre, Ms Kuteh said: 'I was walked out of that hospital after all I had done during all my years as a nurse and I was told I could not even speak to any of my colleagues.
'All I had done was to nurse and care for patients. How could it ever be harmful to tell someone about Jesus?'
Ms Kuteh launched legal action in December. At the time, the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust said her dismissal was not because of any religious belief she held, but how those beliefs were being conveyed to patients.
A trust spokesperson said in December: '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 excessive, unwanted and not consensual, her line manager directed her to concentrate on her nursing duties and refrain from preaching to patients.'
The trust said Ms Kuteh's conduct continued and it had 'no option' but to take disciplinary action and refer her to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The tribunal is listed for 30 March, 10am.