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Victory as restrictions lifted on nurse who gave Bible to patient

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In 2016, Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford summarily dismissed Sarah Kuteh after complaints that she had talked to patients about her Christian faith and had given a Bible to one patient. The hospital also brought a case questioning Sarah’s ‘fitness to practise’ as a nurse before the professional regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

However, in a judgment delivered on 26th July 2018, the NMC panel unanimously ruled that Sarah Kuteh was fully ‘fit to practise’ and “it is in the public interest to return an otherwise experienced and competent nurse into practice”, as it revoked all restrictions on her nursing practice with immediate effect.

This concludes the protracted legal battle where, for almost two years, Sarah fought for her professional future. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sarah engaged an eminent barrister, Jonathan Storey, to represent her at a series of hearings.

Although Sarah found a new job in a nursing home, she was only allowed to work as a nurse subject to a range of ‘conditions’ imposed by the NMC, including close supervision by a more senior nurse.

In a statement presented to the NMC panel, Sarah’s supervisor praised her as “a kind, caring, honest, friendly nurse” and “a valuable member of the team”. Another colleague described her as “respectful to both service users and colleagues” and wrote that she “always acts professionally while on duty”.

At the hearing, Sarah conceded that giving her personal Bible to a patient back in 2016 was “going too far” and “crossing professional boundaries”, and she should have used a Bible from the hospital chaplaincy instead.

“We have been very impressed by your insight”, the panel chairman Adrian Smith told Sarah before handing down the decision vindicating her professional credentials.


Talking about faith was part of pre-op assessment

Sarah, who has 15 years' nursing experience, was sacked for gross misconduct in August 2016. She had worked at Darent Valley Hospital since 2007.

Her job involved asking patients about their faith as part of a pre-op assessment questionnaire. From time to time, this led to a conversation about faith with the patient.

On average, Sarah would see around 30-40 patients a week, and over the course of six months spoke to hundreds of patients.

Sarah said that although she had no intention of imposing her beliefs on others, she would sometimes tell them about how her own faith in Christ had helped her overcome adversity.

"I would... reassure them, based on the joy and peace that I really have found in Jesus," she said.

In April 2016, her Matron came into her office and said she had been told by other staff about a few complaints by patients that she had discussed religion with them.

Sarah said that from then on, she would only discuss religion if the patient asked her to. If they initiated the conversation about religion, she would check they were happy.

But in June 2016, she was called into the Matron's office and was shocked to be told that further complaints had been made. Only days later, she was suspended, told to collect her belongings and escorted from the hospital.

Sarah recalls the experience as "embarrassing and very painful", in light of her fifteen years' nursing experience.

"I was walked out of that hospital after all I had done during all my years as a nurse and I was told I couldn't even speak to any of my colleagues," she said.

"All I had done was to nurse and care for patients. How could it ever be harmful to tell someone about Jesus?"


“Wholly motivated by compassion”

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, commented:

"We are delighted that Sarah Kuteh is once again able to practise nursing without restrictions.

“But for the question on the pre-op assessment questionnaire, these conversations would not have taken place. Without proper investigation, she was fired and her long career as a nurse put under threat.

“Those who know Sarah recognise what a caring, hard-working nurse she is, and the professionalism she brings to her job. Although it’s disappointing that she was ever penalised for her actions – which were wholly motivated by compassion – we rejoice that Sarah is once again free to bring her skill and expertise to her role as a nurse.”

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