Reacting to news that Richard Page, above, a Christian magistrate sacked after voicing his opposition to adoption by same-sex parents, has now been been suspended as a non-executive director by an NHS trust, Andrea Minichiello Williams, inset, barrister and founder of the Christian Legal Centre, said:
For the past decade, we at the Christian Legal Centre have been warning that Christians are being marginalised and removed from public life.
We have seen it in nursing, in counselling, in teaching, amongst registrars and now we see it amongst magistrates and NHS trust executives.
It is time for MPs to take serious note and look afresh at the equality legislation which was badly drafted and consistently gives more rights to some groups over those of the Christian faith.
Andrew Ling, chairman of the Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust (KMPT), had written to the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) requesting the suspension of the 69-year-old.
Page, who has worked in the field of mental health for 20 years, said of his suspension:
Last week, the Prime Minister distributed an Easter video in which he commended Christians and the church for their vital role in society, stating that we are a Christian country and should be proud of it.
However, his government has brought in laws which effectively silence Christians and remove them from the public square. It would appear no longer possible to be a Christian, to state what the Bible actually says and what the church has believed for 2,000 years, and maintain a role in public life in today’s Britain.
My seat on the NHS trust came as a result of my long service in mental health and total commitment to the NHS – none of that has changed.
The trust says in his [Ling’s] letter that it is committed to ‘challenge discrimination and treat everyone fairly and impartially’ – all evidence to the contrary. What about treating my views, held by billions of Christians around the world, equally and fairly?
The recent publicity you have courted is likely to further undermine the confidence staff, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered [LGBT] staff, have in the leadership of the trust.
Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well established. It is vital that patients and [the] local population are confident that KMPT will challenge stigma or discrimination and treat everyone fairly and impartially.
A spokesperson for the NHS Trust Development Authority said:
Following Mr Page’s comments, Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust asked the TDA to consider suspending Mr Page from his role as non-executive director.
After careful consideration, we have suspended Mr Page with immediate effect from 22 March 2016 pending a decision about whether it is in the interests of the NHS to take any further action and for him to remain in post as a non-executive director of the trust.
In making this decision, we will take into consideration the implications of any comments made by Mr Page which could affect the confidence and willingness of patients to access vital healthcare, regardless of their sexuality, race, gender or age, and put the needs of the trust’s current and future patients first.
A KMPT spokeswoman added:
We can confirm that we have suspended Richard Page from Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust board.
Our decision follows Mr Page being removed from the magistracy after the public comments he made about single-sex adopters. As an organisation that takes equality and diversity very seriously, we have considered and discussed the impact this might have on our staff and our service users.
We have come to the decision that Mr Page’s comments could potentially impact on the confidence of current or future patients and for that reason we have suspended Mr Page from his non-executive position.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes