A nurse dismissed for giving a Bible to a patient has been allowed to return to work, although the two-year ordeal has left her stressed and ‘humiliated’. In a video interview, Sarah Kuteh said she was ‘deeply shocked, very hurt and humiliated’ by the 2016 decision by the Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford to summarily dismiss her from her post.
The action came after complaints she had talked to patients about her Christian faith and had given a Bible to one patient. The hospital also brought a case questioning her ‘fitness to practise’ as a nurse before the professional regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), despite a 15-year track record as a nurse.
However, in a judgment delivered at the end of July this year, the NMC panel unanimously ruled Ms Kuteh was fully ‘fit to practise’. The judgment read, ‘It is in the public interest to return an otherwise experienced and competent nurse into practice’.
While Ms Kuteh said she was glad to be able to ‘go back to the profession she loves’ she was dismayed to have gone through the protracted, two-year legal battle. Her job at Darent Valley Hospital had involved asking patients about their faith as part of a pre-op assessment questionnaire. From time to time, this led to a conversation about faith with the patient.
She told the panel although she had no intention of imposing her beliefs on others, she would sometimes tell them about how her own faith in Christ had helped her overcome adversity. In April 2016, her Matron came into her office and said she had been told by other staff about a few complaints by patients that she had discussed religion with them.
Ms Kuteh said from then on, she would only discuss religion if the patient asked her to. But in June 2016, she was recalled into the Matron’s office and was told further complaints had been made. Days later, she was suspended, told to collect her belongings and escorted from the hospital.
Ms Kuteh had been supported by the Christian Legal Centre, with barrister Jonathan Storey, representing her at a series of hearings. In a statement presented to the NMC panel, Sarah’s supervisor praised her as ‘a kind, caring, honest, friendly nurse’ and ‘a valuable member of the team’.
At the hearing, Ms Kuteh conceded giving her personal Bible to a patient back in 2016 was ‘going too far’, and she should have used a Bible from the hospital chaplaincy instead. Panel chairman Adrian Smith told Ms Kuteh, ‘We have been very impressed by your insight’, before handing down the decision in her favour.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the CLC, commented, ‘Without proper investigation, she was fired and her long career as a nurse put under threat. Those who know Ms Kuteh recognise what a caring, hard-working nurse she is, and the professionalism she brings to her job. Although it’s disappointing she was ever penalised for her actions, we rejoice she is once again free to bring her skill and expertise to her role as a nurse’.