Sarah Kuteh, a nurse formerly employed at Dartford’s Darent Valley Hospital, has been sacked for repeatedly striking up conversation regarding her faith with patients in a manner which breached the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules.
Kuteh had insisted with a cancer patient that he should pray to God for “a better chance of survival”, whilst another patient complained that she had “spent more time talking about religion than doing the assessment”. Other patients complained about her preaching as inappropriate in a hospital.
One cancer patient vividly described his encounter with Kuteh as “bizarre”, likening it to a “Monty Python skit”. In his forms, he had replied ‘open-minded’ in terms of faith and claimed that Kuteh encouraged him to pray to Jesus, offering him her Bible. She also “gripped his hand tightly and said a prayer that was very intense” and made him sing The Lord is My Shepherd along with her.
The 50-year-old mother of three had been formally requested to refrain from such behaviour as patients were being made to feel uncomfortable. In disobeying this legitimate instruction from management, she was sacked for gross misconduct, and the dismissal was found to be justified by the employment tribunal. Her subsequent appeal before the EAT also failed.
The recent Court of Appeal judgment found that the hospital (employer) did not provide for an absolute ban of religious speech, but it considered Kuteh’s behaviour and disobedience to warrant grounds for dismissal. Kuteh claims a violation of her freedom to manifest her religious beliefs (protected under the European Convention on Human Rights).
The Christian Legal Centre, which represents Kuteh, is currently considering her options following this last judgment.