NHS nurse sacked 'after telling cancer patient he had a better chance of survival if he prayed'

Sarah Kuteh says she had no intention of imposing her beliefs on others

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The Independent Online

A nurse was sacked by the NHS after a cancer patient claimed she told him that he would have a better chance of survival if he prayed, an employment tribunal has heard.

Sarah Kuteh, a 15 year veteran, was sacked for gross misconduct from Darent Valley Hospital in Kent in August of last year. 

The mother-of-three has claimed she was unfairly dismissed and said she was just offering to pray with patients before surgery. 

One other patient said Ms Kuteh spent more time talking about religion than completing a pre-operative questionnaire.

A total of eight complaints were made by patients who were facing surgery and one described Mrs Kuteh as “bizarre” and compared his experience with her to a “Monty Python skit”.

Ms Kuteh has claimed she had no intention of imposing her beliefs on others but would occasionally tell patients about how her own faith had helped her overcome adversity.

Her lawyer Pavel Stroilov, said nurses are meant to care for people facing hardship and suffering.

"A nurse without compassion would be unworthy of the name," he said. "On top of performing her immediate duties, a good nurse would try and find kind words to say to her patient."

But Sarah Collins, general manager for medicine at Darent Valley Hospital, who chaired Ms Kuteh's first disciplinary hearing, said her "spirituality blurred the professional boundary" between herself and patients.

"Despite having been warned against such behaviour on two occasions, she persisted with questioning patients on religious grounds," Ms Collins said in a statement. "Following reasonable management requests formed a pivotal aspect of Ms Kuteh's contract of employment with the Trust."

Ms Collins said there had been a "fundamental breach of trust and confidence" and she thought Ms Kuteh had not learned from her mistakes and would not change her behaviour.

"Ms Kuteh's assertion that she felt compelled to continue to hold religious discussions with patients concerned me," she added.