Nurse’s dismissal: Christian Legal Centre loses yet another case

Nurse’s dismissal: Christian Legal Centre loses yet another case May 22, 2019

A BRITISH nurse who told a cancer patient that the only way to get to God was though Jesus, and then asked him to sing the ‘Lord is My Shepherd’  has lost her unfair dismissal appeal

Image via YouTube/Christian Legal Centre

Sarah Kuteh, above, represented by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) , lost her job at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, in 2016 after her “fitness to practise” as a nurse was questioned for repeatedly talking to patients about her faith.

The patient described the 50-year-old nurse’s antics as:

Very bizarre and like a Monty Python skit.

The mother of three was initially found to be in breach of Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules. But when the NMC ruled that she was fit to return to work as a nurse, she launched a second appeal against the initial ruling of the employment tribunal.

In a judgement published by the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Singh ruled the dismissal was fair and dismissed the appeal.

The judgement stated:

On 20 June 2016, the Complaints Department noted a call from a patient being treated for cancer concerning his assessment by the Claimant on 3 June 2016.

He had replied ‘open minded’ to the question on the form concerning religion and alleged the Claimant had told him that the only way he could get to the Lord was through Jesus.

(She) told him she would give him her Bible if he did not have one; gripped his hand tightly and said a prayer that was very intense and went ‘on and on’; and asked him to sing Psalm 23 [The Lord is My Shepherd] after which he was so astounded that he had sung the first verse with her.

Concluding, Lord Justice Singh added:

The decision to dismiss the Claimant for misconduct was one which the Employment Tribunal concluded fell within the band of reasonable responses open to the Respondent in this case.

Even having regard to the importance of the right to freedom of religion, it was plainly open to the Employment Tribunal to conclude that this dismissal had not been unfair.

Similarly, the Employment Appeal Tribunal was plainly correct, in my view, to regard the appeal as having no reasonable prospect of success and therefore in dismissing it.

For the reasons I have given I would dismiss this appeal.

The court documents also included a number of other incidents, including when Ms Kuteh allegedly told a bowel cancer patient in April 2016 that:

If he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival.

Earlier in the case Pavel Stroilov of the CLC argued that she was simply caring for patients in their time of need.

A nurse without compassion would be unworthy of the name.

Speaking on Premier’s News Hour, Libby Powell from the CLC  said:

We really pray that the judge will clearly understand this action of the hospital … was wrong and that it would be right for Sarah to be reinstated. This is about making a move which bore no comparison on what happened.

Sarah Collins, General Manager for medicine at Darent Valley Hospital said Kuteh had “spirituality blurred the professional boundary” between herself and patients.

But Powell rejected the claim.

All she was doing was raising religion as part of her job. This was not Sarah going around preaching and offering prayer to every patient she saw.

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  • Ann Kah

    “Raising religion” is not part of her job, and her inability to see this means that she cannot devote her attentions toward the actual purpose of her job.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Always closing the sale….
    Always recruiting…
    The more people that agree with me, the truthier my beliefs.

  • Robert Baden

    Someone with different beliefs might find her behavior stressful. Not what an ill person needs.

  • If she tried that crap on me, I’d let out a scream of rage that would have Security come running from two floors away.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Powell sez:

    This was not Sarah going around preaching and offering prayer to every patient she saw.

    How do you know that? This case was based on evidence of the few patients who [1] disagreed with her religious message, and [2] felt her behavior rose to the level of harassment, and were motivated to complain. The problem is almost assuredly more widespread than the testimonies brought forth in this hearing, and reinstating Kuteh to her position will only encourage her and others to use the nursing profession as a platform for coerced confessions of belief.

  • Broga

    “All she was doing was raising religion as part of her job. ” I just love that “All”. An objective view might be that far from “all” she was doing she was making herself incapable of doing her job.

  • Sporkfighter

    I want my medical professionals to be personally invested in saving my life, not passing the responsibility off on this deity or that ghost.

  • barriejohn

    I’m amazed to learn that they lost this case (irony). I wonder whether she belongs to the Christian Medical Fellowship. It is very strong, and its members are encouraged to “speak out boldly” in the workplace about their faith. Many Christians, of course, only enter such professions as teaching and nursing so as to be able to “share their faith”, and “witness to others”.

    (Click on “speak” and “serve” to see what I mean)

  • RainbowPhoenix

    Trying to push her religion on people who are already in a bad way seems more self-serving than compassionate.

  • persephone

    Several years ago, I ended up in the ER with second degree burns to my hand from spilling hot bacon grease on it. The pain was bad, and, due to various allergies, it was taking longer than usual to get the right medicines. The doctor was great. She did want an EKG though, because I have a murmur and she wanted to make sure my weird heartbeat was just that and not something worse.

    The RN was a man. I heard him talking to the patient in the next bed (just curtains between us). She was an elderly woman, and they were discussing church, which I thought was a nice thing for her.

    Then he comes over and is helping me adjust the bed and get ready for the EKG tech. He starts talking about his kids, and I share that I have two sons. He starts telling me all about spanking his kids to keep them in line and how well-behaved they are, but you’ve gotta keep up with the spanking, or they’ll be trouble. I told him that I didn’t spank and had had no issues with my children misbehaving in any major way. He got a look on his face. Whatever.

    The visit progresses, EKG is done, a different nurse is bandaging my hand after the doctor came back to give the go ahead and approve the dressing. I just want to go home and medicate the pain away.

    The original RN comes back. He tells me they’re finishing up the paperwork at the desk, and I’ll be able to leave shortly. Yay.

    And then he did it. But, first, he says, he wants to discuss my spirituality with me, and he starts going into the same damned spiel he’d used with the other patient. I stared hard* into his eyes, and said, “Do I have to listen to this to get my paperwork?”

    Oh, he was pissed. He leaves. I wait. I’m all dressed, including my coat, and ready to go. He doesn’t come back. I went out to the nurses station and asked about my paperwork. The nurses there asked who had been helping me. I said I didn’t know his name, but I was able to describe him. They both rolled their eyes. It turned out he’d walked out and gone to lunch without telling anyone. They got me the paperwork; I signed what needed to be signed; I left. They said they’d talk to the supervisor about it. I would guess that there must have been other people that complained. I felt bad for the people who weren’t able to get away from his BS.

    * While still a teenager, I perfected what came to be know as my ice queen stare. It has only gotten stronger with age.

  • Mike Curnutt

    That’s basically how missionary work is. Go to poor, impoverished places and prey on their vulnerability.

  • Jennny

    A woman joined our church – when I was fundy – and she seemed to cry a lot. Eventually she told me she’d been dismissed from the job she loved. She said she nursed terminally ill cancer patients for many years and recently relatives of three had made official complaints about her bible-bashing their dying loved ones. She was also very bitter because when called to the Nursing Council, the main witness testifying to what he’d heard her saying, was a colleague who was gay. But she said ‘Three people are in heaven now because of what I did.’ I cringed and added her appalling arrogant attitude to the many dissonances I lived with about my faith…till finally I did confront them and deconverted.

  • Broga

    These people have no sense of propriety or, in my experience, common sense. My experience involved a fundie colleague who tried to convert me. I got fed up and told him to clear off and return when he could provide evidence for his faith and its miracles. He was a nuisance who handed out fundie pamphlets and pestered us to “share his witness at meetings at his home.” Looking back I’m surprised at our tolerance.

    One morning he arrives, late as usual, and says to me, “I have got the evidence now and you won’t be able to ignore it.” I thought that what was coming might at least have a smidgen of plausibility. He then tells me his car broke down and he had raised the bonnet and prayed to “his best friend, Jesus.”. When he turned the ignition again it started. That was the evidence. The phrase “share our witness” still resonates with me.

  • barriejohn
  • barriejohn

    God fixes broken cars and helps teams win football games, but he somehow can’t find time to feed starving children:

    (There’s a better one than that, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I should have prayed about it!)

  • rubaxter

    They are not El Cid, they are not Mother Theresa (well, maybe they are), they are not Joan of Arc, they are Mrs. Nesbit/Premise/Conclusion, who need to just be nice people and shut up about their wheelchair faith …

  • Robert Baden

    Love to have been there when his car failed again. That’s the nature of intermittent failures.

  • Connie Beane

    My husband’s two brothers did this to their uncle (by marriage), on his deathbed no less. He had consistently refused to talk to them about the state of his soul and assure them that he was “saved,” so when he was dying and unable to kick them out, they barged into his room in the hospital with a minister in tow and started badgering him to give them some evidence that he “accepted Jesus Christ.” By this point he was unable to speak, so they put a pen in his hand and encouraged him to “sign” a piece of paper. One of the brothers kept this little souvenir and exhibited the wavery “X” on it to my husband and me as proof that they had ensured Uncle John’s eternal salvation.

  • towercam

    As supervising editor, I’d be giving the author – whose name is noticeably missing – of this ‘article’ a good talking to.
    “has lost her unfair dismissal appeal”
    The bleedin’ writer has already decided what is and isn’t fair. Phooey!!

  • barriejohn

    Is that meant to be a joke? It was an appeal against alleged “unfair dismissal”.

    And the author’s name – Barry Duke – is prominent right at the top of the page.

  • RainbowPhoenix

    I’d have grabbed it out of their hand and ripped it to shreds.

  • Connie Beane

    I was tempted, believe me. It happened nearly twenty years ago and I still grind my teeth when I think about it.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    This is religious abuse. The patient is the one who is vulnerable and in distress. To impose her religious views on the patient is malpractice. I speak as a former hospital and hospice chaplain. I know of evangelical chaplains (!!!) who go into patients who are dying and try to convert them, saying, ‘this is their last chance to come to the Lord and be Saved.”

  • Ohyetwetrust

    It’s more than that. They have no respect for the person’s own faith or right to be non-religious. They ere holier-than-thou, so sure their religion are the only right pipeline to God that they just have to share. That’s being sanctimonious, smug, and intrusive. It also disrespects the patient and can cause the patient more distress than otherwise. Remember some patients are not able to respond or tell nurses to stop.

  • Andrea Fitzgerald

    I would love to have that stare! 😉

  • (Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions sighs heavily and rolls Her eyes)

  • zenlike

    “Congratulations, you have a piece of paper that undeniably proves you are an irredeemable ghoulish asshole. Now fuck off.”

    But seriously, how horrific. Thanks for sharing.

  • barriejohn

    That doesn’t surprise me, as an ex-fundie. Was it a “Decision Card”? They used to be very popular with those who thought you could talk almost any gullible person (especially children) into “accepting Christ”. Once they’d “confessed Jesus” they were saved for all eternity – bingo!

  • barriejohn

    When my sister was dying of breast cancer, at the age of 33, she was visited daily by two mysterious women whom I judged to be Pentecostal. They didn’t say a word to anyone else in the house, and spent all day with her. I was a Christian myself then, though not “charismatic”, and had a pretty shrewd idea what was going on. My father was furious, because she was supposed to be spending her last days with her family (she had four girls), but after the two harpies left she was too tired to talk to anyone else. But I’m sure they were rejoicing that due to their selfless efforts she was going to heaven.

  • Contractions of Fate

    See? THAT is how to deal with religious nutters. if only America could learn the lesson.


  • Contractions of Fate

    “the main witness testifying to what he’d heard her saying, was a colleague who was gay.”

    And we all know how heard of hearing those Gays are. No one should trust the testimony of a Gay. Probably an atheist Gay, to boot! Imagine the nerve of that Nursing Council giving credence to the word of an abomination in the sight of a 3,500 thousand year old goat herder’s volcano god!


  • Connie Beane

    No, nothing so formal. It was just a piece of scrap paper with nothing on it–not John’s name, not a statement of acceptance, no date, no words at all–only a shaky scrawl that might have been anything! But BIL was so proud of this “evidence” that he and his brother had ensured the salvation of their uncle’s immortal soul. Considering that Jesus–if he existed–would hardly need a written contract, my husband and I concluded that the paper served solely as an ego booster for the BILs, another hash-mark for their E-creds (credit for evangelizing).

  • anne marie hovgaard

    I’d like to add a 3rd point: they actually made an official complaint, despite being British 😉

  • Jennny

    Yup, I cringe to think of the tracts she gave this gay colleague and the inappropriate conversations she would have had with him about repenting from his sinful, hell-bound ‘chosen’ lifestyle. And, of course his accurate testimony of her behaviour was vicious persecution!

  • Vanity Unfair

    An intermittent fault is something that does not go wrong when you* have time to repair it.

    Or I, definitely.

  • Sau Peih

    As a supervising editor, I would fact check or get someone else to fact check, rather than show my ignorance about an appeal for an “unfair dismissal”, aka an unfair dismissal appeal.

  • Sau Peih

    I am wondering whether it’s possible in the UK to refuse medical care from a religious person, not just the proselytising ones. Are patients required to be treated by the religious?