Sacked Christian nurse 'imposed religious belief' on patients, tribunal told
A Christian nurse fired for gross misconduct after patients complained she talked more about God than about their operations is appealing against her dismissal.
Sarah Kuteh lost her job at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, after eight 'extremely vulnerable' patients facing surgery submitted complaints against her behaviour.
The nurse told one cancer patient facing surgery he had a better chance of survival if he prayed to God.
But the mother-of-three said she her dismissal and referral to the Nursing and Midwifery Council for disqualification proceedings after several months' suspension and referred last August after 15 years as a nurse was 'a hugely disproportionate punishment'.
She said: 'I would... reassure them, based on the joy and peace that I really have found in Jesus.'
She described her experience as 'embarrassing and very painful' as she was escorted out of the hospital with her possessions.
'All I had done was to nurse and care for patients. How could it ever be harmful to tell someone about Jesus?'
Backed by the Christian Legal Centre, her lawyer told the tribunal she had just been acting out of compassion.
Pavel Stroilov said: '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 the chair of the hospital trust's appeal hearing, Victoria Leivers-Carruth, said Kuteh was dismissed because she used one-on-one time with patients to 'impose her religious belief'.
She said: '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.'
Sarah Collins, general manager for medicine at Darent Valley Hospital, said despite repeated warnings she had 'persisted with questioning patients on religious grounds'.
Kuteh's 'spirituality blurred the professional boundary' between her and patients, she said.
'Following reasonable management requests formed a pivotal aspect of Mrs Kuteh's contract of employment with the Trust,' she added.
Tribunal judge Martin Kurrein reserved judgment.