The issue of nurses having inappropriate conversations about religion with patients has come up again.
In Mrs S Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (England and Wales: Unfair Dismissal)  UKET 2302764/2016, the Claimant, a nursing sister employed by the Trust, was a “committed Christian” . In March and April 2016, staff in her department told her superiors that patients had been complaining that when they were being assessed by Mrs Kuteh she had been raising matters of religion and faith with them: one complained that she had been asked “what she thought Easter was about”, another that he had been asked what he thought being a Christian meant and a third, about to undergo major surgery for bowel cancer, that she had told him if he prayed to God he would have a better chance of survival .
In April 2016, the Matron, Ms Gill, told Mrs Kuteh that such discussions were inappropriate and should not take place in the future. Mrs Kuteh undertook to change her ways and the Matron confirmed their conversation in writing . Subsequently, however, a patient complained that Mrs Kuteh had given her a Bible and said that she would pray for her and another that Mrs Kuteh was preaching at her and made her feel uncomfortable . Mrs Kuteh was ultimately suspended for repeated misconduct, inappropriate behaviour involving unwanted discussions on religion that had resulted in complaints from patients, and breach of paragraph 20.7 of the nursing and midwifery code about not expressing political, religious or moral beliefs to people in an inappropriate way [25 & 26]. Finally, after a formal investigation meeting, she was dismissed [26-37] and her appeal against dismissal was unsuccessful.
At the tribunal hearing, Employment Judge Kurrein concluded that the internal appeal process was thorough, fair and reasonable and the outcome, that the original decision should stand, was unimpeachable . As to the relevance of Article 9 ECHR, Mrs Kuteh’s only claim was for unfair dismissal: “At the time she presented her claim she could have, but did not, make a claim alleging discrimination because of religion or belief” :
“In light of all my above findings I draw the important distinction, illustrated in the case of Chondol v Liverpool City Council  UKEAT 0298/08/1102, that in this case the Claimant was prevented from inappropriately proselytising her beliefs, as opposed to being prevented from manifesting them. I am entirely satisfied that was the true reason that the Respondent decided to dismiss the Claimant” .
Claim dismissed. The Trust had not breached Mrs Kuteh’s Article 9 rights [85 & 86].
[Note: At  in the transcript, BAILII cites Chondol as “(1999) UKEAT/0298/08/JOJ” – which is incorrect. I’ve corrected it in the quotation above.]