Victory as restrictions lifted on nurse who gave Bible to patient

8 August 2018

Sarah Kuteh was dismissed from her job after talking to patients about her Christian faith and giving a Bible to one patient.

After dismissing her, Darent Valley Hospital reported Sarah to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), questioning her ‘fitness to practise’.

For nearly two years since, the NMC has held a series of hearings to determine whether Sarah would continue to be able to practise as a nurse.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sarah engaged a barrister, Jonathan Storey, to represent her at the hearings.

Finally, on 26 July 2018, the NMC panel unanimously ruled that Sarah was fully ‘fit to practise’ and revoked all restrictions on her nursing practice.

Praise God that Sarah is free to work as a nurse again without restrictions.

Talking about faith was part of pre-op assessment

Sarah, who has 15 years’ nursing experience, was sacked for gross misconduct in August 2016. She had worked at Darent Valley Hospital since 2007.

Her job 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.

On average, Sarah would see around 30-40 patients a week, and over the course of six months spoke to hundreds of patients.

Sarah said that 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.

“I would… reassure them, based on the joy and peace that I really have found in Jesus,” she said.

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.

Sarah said that from then on, she would only discuss religion if the patient asked her to. If they initiated the conversation about religion, she would check they were happy.

But in June 2016, she was called into the matron’s office and was shocked to be told that further complaints had been made. Only days later, she was suspended, told to collect her belongings and escorted from the hospital.

Sarah recalls the experience as “embarrassing and very painful,” in light of her fifteen years’ nursing experience.

“I was walked out of that hospital after all I had done during all my years as a nurse and I was told I couldn’t even speak to any of my colleagues,” she said.

“All I had done was to nurse and care for patients. How could it ever be harmful to tell someone about Jesus?”

Working under restriction

After her dismissal, Sarah was subject to a range of conditions imposed by the NMC.

Although Sarah found a new job in a nursing home, she was only allowed to work under close supervision by a more senior nurse.

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.” Another colleague described her as “respectful to both service users and colleagues” and wrote that she “always acts professionally while on duty.”

At the hearing, Sarah conceded that giving her personal Bible to a patient back in 2016 was “going too far” and “crossing professional boundaries” and she should have used a Bible from the hospital chaplaincy instead.

“We have been very impressed by your insight,” the panel chairman Adrian Smith told Sarah before handing down the decision vindicating her professional credentials.

The ruling said “It is in the public interest to return an otherwise experienced and competent nurse into practice.”

‘Wholly motivated by compassion’

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, commented:

“We are delighted that Sarah Kuteh is once again able to practise nursing without restrictions.

“But for the question on the pre-op assessment questionnaire, these conversations would not have taken place. Without proper investigation, she was fired and her long career as a nurse put under threat.

“Those who know Sarah recognise what a caring, hard-working nurse she is, and the professionalism she brings to her job. Although it’s disappointing that she was ever penalised for her actions – which were wholly motivated by compassion – we rejoice that Sarah is once again free to bring her skill and expertise to her role as a nurse.”

A heartfelt thanks

Sarah spoke of her gratitude to Christian Legal Centre and all those who’ve supported the work through Christian Concern:

“This is a brilliant outcome. To the Christian Legal Centre team, Christian Concern and all my supporters, I just want to say thank you so much – a very heartfelt thanks – from myself, and from the rest of my family.

“Had it not been for your support, quite frankly I would have been lost. But, I want to thank you all. You are doing a brilliant job, and I pray that the Lord will reward you all for the wonderful job that you are doing, and for believing in me.”

Find out more about Sarah Kuteh
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