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Dismissal fair for discussing religion with patients in an inappropriate manner

Makbool Javaid

In Kuteh v Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust, Kuteh (K) is a committed Christian. She was employed as a nurse responsible for carrying out assessments of patients who were due to undergo surgery. Patients had complained that when K was carrying out assessments she had raised matters of religion with them, including one patient, about to undergo major bowel surgery for cancer, who was told that if he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival. K was told that such discussions were inappropriate and should cease.

Further complaints were received, including a patient describing an encounter with K as “very bizarre” and “like a Monty Python skit” during which K had told him the only way he could get to the Lord was through Jesus and asking him to sing Psalm 23. Following an investigation and a disciplinary hearing, K was summarily dismissed for inappropriate behaviour/conduct that involved unwanted discussions on the topic of religion which resulted in verbal complaints from the patients.

An ET rejected K’s claims of unfair dismissal and breach of her Article 9 Rights: Freedom of thought, belief and religion. K had been dismissed for a reason relating to her conduct. She had admitted that she had continued to have inappropriate discussions after being told they should stop, had gone too far and had breached her duty. K’s conduct had caused a breakdown in trust and confidence and dismissal fell fairly and squarely within the band of reasonable responses. Furthermore, as K was prevented from inappropriately proselytising her beliefs, as opposed to being prevented from manifesting them, then Article 9 had no application to the facts of the case.

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