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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
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.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.
Read 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
(Author: Christian Legal Centre/Christians Together)

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