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Christian nurse suspended for offering to pray


Update 06/02/09

Caroline Petrie has been invited by her employer to return to work. See foot of this article for update.

Update 09/02/09

Read an interiew with Caroline Petrie


Christian Nurse who was suspenA Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended from her work for offering to pray for an elderly patient.

Caroline Petrie, a community nurse and devout Christian, is facing dismissal for an alleged breach of her code of conduct on equality and diversity.

Mrs Petrie, who is married mother of two, has been accused by her employers of failing to demonstrate a ‘personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity’ because of her offer of prayer. She was suspended, without pay, on 17th December 2008 and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting this week. She says she has been left shocked and upset by the action taken against her.A Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended from her work for offering to pray for an elderly patient.

Caroline Petrie, a community nurse and devout Christian, is facing dismissal for an alleged breach of her code of conduct on equality and diversity.

Mrs Petrie, who is married mother of two, has been accused by her employers of failing to demonstrate a ‘personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity’ because of her offer of prayer. She was suspended, without pay, on 17th December 2008 and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting this week. She says she has been left shocked and upset by the action taken against her.

Mrs Petrie, who has been a community nurse since 1985 and is employed by North Somerset Primary Care Trust, said she had asked an elderly patient if she would like a prayer said for her after she had put dressings on the patient’s legs. The patient declined and Mrs Petrie took the matter no further.

The situation arose at the home of the patient in North Somerset. Mrs Petrie said: 'It was around lunchtime and I had spent about 20 to 25 minutes with her. I had applied dressings to her legs and shortly before I left I said to her: “Would you like me to pray for you?” She said “No, thank you.” And I said: “OK.” I only offered to pray for her because I was concerned about her welfare and wanted her to get better.’

Mrs Petrie was initially confronted the next day by a nursing sister who said the patient had been taken aback by her question about prayer. Subsequently, Mrs Petrie received a message on her home phone from the North Somerset Primary Care Trust telling her that disciplinary action against her would be taken. She was then suspended.

Video CameraRead on and view TV news items in at the Christian Legal Centre...


Mike Judge of the Christian Institute has been interviewed by CBN News


The guidelines for hospital chaplains state: The cornerstone of the modern NHS is the ability to respond sensitively to the diverse nature of the communities it serves; all services, including spiritual ones, should be delivered appropriately to service users and NHS staff.

NHS Highland has said:
"Our staff are advised to discuss and record an individual's spiritual needs along with other equality and diversity matters when they first meet a patient so their wishes are respected.

We have a spiritual care policy which follows national guidance and it sets out our principles for recognising and meeting the spiritual needs of people of all faiths and none in a way which is non judgemental and individual to each patient. We have more than 20 chaplains working throughout the Highlands."

Meanwhile Stephen Timms, a Government minister has said in a public lecture that faith should not be kept private. The Christian Institute reports -

Religious people should not have to keep their faith private, a Government minister has said.

A large number of people in Britain see faith as “the key to their whole identity” and should be listened to by politicians, said Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary and Labour MP for East Ham.

Mr Timms was delivering a lecture on politics and faith at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

His comments will be received with caution by Christians who feel their religious freedoms have been increasingly eroded by new legislation introduced in recent years.

He said “faith communities offer a rich resource of hopefulness which, in progressive politics, we need to tap into and draw upon”.

He argued that rather than dismissing “faith-based perspectives”, progressive politicians should recognize them as “valid and mainstream”.

“That means recognising that faith cannot be relegated to the private sphere”, he said.

Read full article at the Christian Institute

A report of the story in the Western Daily Press stated:

Alison Withers, Mrs Petrie's boss at the time, wrote to her at the end of November saying: "As a nurse you are required to uphold the reputation of your profession. Your NMC (Nursing Midwifery Council) code states that 'you must demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity' and 'you must not use your professional status to promote causes that are not related to health'."

As a result, Mrs Petrie, who qualified as a nurse in 1985 and has worked parttime for the North Somerset authority since last February, was ordered to attend an equality course.

Her husband Stewart, 48, yesterday condemned the situation as "political correctness gone mad". And Mr Petrie made it clear that children Nathan, 14, and Matthew, 10, were fully behind their mother.

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Media Links to story about nurse...

Daily Telegraph:
Nurse suspended for offering to pray for elderly patient's recovery


BBC:

Nurse suspended for prayer offer

 

Daily Mail:

Persecuted for praying: Nurse who faces the sack after offering to pray for sick patient

 

This is Bristol:

West nurse suspended for offering to pray for patient

 



Update 06/02/09


Caroline Petrie's employer has issued the following statement:

NHS North Somerset have contacted bank nurse Caroline Petrie with a view to her returning back to work as soon as she feels able. We have always been keen to bring this matter to a timely resolution. It has been a distressing and difficult time for Caroline and all staff involved.

We recognise the concerns raised by the many people who have contacted us about this situation. We feel we were right to investigate the concerns from people about Caroline’s actions. We are always respectful of our patients’ views, and we will always strive to ensure our staff meet professional standards such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct and any policies and procedures which are designed to maintain high standards.

However, we are keenly aware of the importance of an individual’s spiritual belief, and we recognise that Caroline felt that she was acting in the best interests of her patients. For some people of faith, prayer is seen as an integral part of health care and the healing process. That is why NHS services in North Somerset offer spiritual support such as chaplaincy and prayer rooms, for example, available for use by people of all faiths.

It is acceptable to offer spiritual support as part of care when the patient asks for it.

But for nurses, whose principal role is giving nursing care, the initiative lies with the patient and not with the nurse. Nurses like Caroline do not have to set aside their faith, but personal beliefs and practices should be secondary to the needs and beliefs of the patient and the requirements of professional practice.

We are glad to make this position clear so that Caroline and other staff who have a faith continue to offer high quality care for patients while remaining committed to their beliefs. We hope Caroline can return to work as soon as she feels able.

Press reports:


NHS staff face sack if they discuss religion - The Telegraph

All National Health Service employees risk losing their job if they discuss their religious beliefs with colleagues or patients, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

Somerset nurse in prayer row invited to return to work - This is Somerset

Ban on prayer is discriminatory and contrary to NHS guidelines - Christian Medical Fellowship


Christian Legal Centre/Christians Together, 02/02/2009

Feedback:
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Editor 04/02/2009 15:51
A Christian nurse and Christian doctor in the Highlands have both said that whilst they always pray for their patients, they would not offer prayer unless the patient asked for spiritual support.

When asked for a comment regarding the policy in the Highlands regarding spiritual care of patients, a spokesperson for NHS Highland said:
"Our staff are advised to discuss and record an individual's spiritual needs along with other equality and diversity matters when they first meet a patient so their wishes are respected.

We have a spiritual care policy which follows national guidance and it sets out our principles for recognising and meeting the spiritual needs of people of all faiths and none in a way which is non judgemental and individual to each patient. We have more than 20 chaplains working throughout the Highlands."



For updates on this case see -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/georgepitcher/4434264/God-bless-the-nurse-who-offered-prayer.html

and to view further information and responses from Telegraph readers, see:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4446935/Nurses-prayer-suspension-Sign-petition-for-Caroline-Petrie-here.html
Editor 05/02/2009 12:50
In the UK, the increasing assault against the Christian faith is attracting attention from other parts of the world. Mike Judge of the Newcastle-based Christian Institute has been interviewed by CBN News.
Have a look at -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4wfeITF6VY&eurl=http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090204/secular-group-backs-punishment-of-nurse/
Editor 06/02/2009 09:25
The nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient has been reinstated. However, issue of "if, how, when, where, who" in relation to the role of prayer, religion and spirituality has become a very hot potato.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/4530384/NHS-staff-face-sack-if-they-discuss-religion.html
Editor 06/02/2009 16:16
Support for Caroline Petrie has flooded in to the Christian Medical Fellowship. See -
http://www.cmf.org.uk/news/?id=117
Editor 10/02/2009 14:45
Read an interview with Caroline Petrie -
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1138624/Exclusive-The-nurse-suspended-offering-prayer-gives-interview.html
Penny Lee 10/02/2009 17:03
She seems a very dedicated and reasonable person. I'm glad she took a stand and God will bless her for it.
Peter Carr 10/02/2009 17:45
True, but where does it leave Christians in relation to Rom 13 and obeying civil authorities?
Editor 10/02/2009 18:21
It is interesting that this case has been published in an arena for Human Resources Managers -
See http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/02/06/49291/christian-nurse-suspended-over-patient-prayer-offer-is-reinstated.html

Also NHS Somerset has issued the following Press Release -

MEDIA STATEMENT
3rd February 2009

REVISED STATEMENT RE CAROLINE PETRIE

We are very sorry about the concerns caused to many people through media interest in Caroline Petrie's, one of our bank nurses, actions. We are speaking to as many people as possible who have phoned us to explain the situation, and will answer all the e mails received but this will take us a little time. We thought it may be helpful to answer some of the main questions we have been asked in the 'Questions and Answers' below.

Q: How did this situation occur?

A: The background is that two separate concerns were reported from a carer and a patient about the way a nurse offered her personal religious beliefs and that has been investigated but no disciplinary action has been taken at this time. The nurse was suspended while the concerns were looked into which is in line with our HR policies. It does not mean that disciplinary action will follow; each case is looked at on an individual basis. Ultimately it is important to add we always take any concerns raised by our patients most seriously and conscientiously investigate any matter brought to our attention. We have to be respectful of our patients' views as well as those of our staff.

Q: Please could you provide advice about how you have interpreted the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct?

A: The code of conduct sets out the expected standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. A good nurse provides a holistic, caring approach, listening and responding to people and their preferences for care. This includes demonstrating a personal and professional commitment to respecting people from different backgrounds, gender, age and beliefs and acting with integrity.

It is not acceptable within the code to project personal beliefs unless invited to do so by patients and families, however, we are keenly aware of religious sensitivities and the importance of everyone's individual spiritual belief - patients as well as staff. To view the code follow the link: www.nmc-uk. org.

Q: Why was it wrong to pray for a patient?

A: We have not said that, but it is a more complex issue. We encourage our professionals to treat patients with respect and dignity and they would naturally want to do that. Any part of a health care interaction should be focused on the patient's needs and care offered on the basis that the patient can choose whether to receive the service and that receiving it supports the maintenance of the person's dignity and privacy. Some aspects of dignity and privacy derive from faith considerations such as respect for religious traditions that require services to be delivered in a particular way such as woman to woman services in some faith traditions.

The privacy and dignity considerations also apply to spiritual wellbeing as much as to physical or psychological care in that a person's faith or belief system may structure the way they understand their illness and the resources that should be deployed to deal with the illness. For some people of faith prayer is seen as an integral part of the health care and healing process.

We expect as part of the person's care plan an entry describing the patient's preferences in relation to their spiritual needs. The person responsible for care co-ordination has the responsibility for agreeing with the patient how those needs are to be met and whether that is as part of the NHS interaction such as via chaplaincy or by support from others such as family or faith/community groups or if they are making their own arrangements.

Regarding spiritual support by staff whose principal role is not to offer spiritual support, the initiative needs to rest with the patient and not with the caregiver. The personal views/beliefs and practices of the caregiver should be secondary to the needs of the patient and the requirements of competent professional practice.

It is acceptable to offer spiritual support when the patient has stated that they wish to receive this as part of their care.

For people of faith who are involved in healthcare, that does not mean they are required to set aside their faith but they are required to allow their actions to speak of their faith.

There are grounds for wondering whether the nurse's sincere faith convictions about the efficacy of intercessory prayer are more strongly held than her commitment to a pattern of practice consistent with her professional role.

Q: Why do you provide Equality and Diversity training?

A: The Trust has three existing equality schemes; they are the Race (2005), Disability (2006) and Gender (2007) Schemes. All of these are legal requirements under the respective legislation. Our staff are offered training to ensure they are up to date on their responsibilities and aware of the impact of peoples age, religion/faith, and gender.

-ENDS-
Editor 23/02/2009 17:01
A veteran youth counselor is suing a California children's home after she was suspended without pay because teenagers under her supervision overheard Christian music.

In a suit filed on Feb. 13, Maureen Loya charged Orangewood Children's Home with religious discrimination for slapping her with a six-week suspension for "exposing children to unapproved religious activities."

Read on in The Christian Post -
http://christianpost.com/Society/Ethics_rights/2009/02/teens-exposure-to-christian-music-leads-to-suspension-lawsuit-22/index.html
Editor 26/02/2009 17:53
Reinstating Caroline Petrie, a Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient, was “common sense” says Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme this morning Mrs Blears said she wants to see an end to “political correctness gone mad”.

Also appearing on GMTV, she said: “If you look at the issue with the nurse, I am delighted that common sense prevailed, she is back at work.

“She wasn’t going to impose prayer on people, she just said ‘would you like me to’ and common sense has prevailed in that case.”

Read on...
http://www.christian.org.uk/news/20090225/blears-glad-prayer-nurse-back-at-work/
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