Nurse Suspended For Offering To Pray For Elderly Patient’s Recovery
By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 5:31PM GMT 01 Feb 2009
A nurse has been suspended from her job for offering to pray for an elderly patient’s recovery from illness.
Caroline Petrie, a committed Christian, has been accused by her employers of failing to demonstrate a “personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity”.
She faces disciplinary action and could lose her job over the incident.
Mrs Petrie, a married mother of two, says she has been left shocked and upset by the action taken against her.
She insists she has never forced her own religious beliefs on anyone but politely inquired if the elderly patient wanted her to pray for her ““ either in the woman’s presence or after the nurse had left the patient’s home.
“I simply couldn’t believe that I have been suspended over this. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. All I am trying to do is help my patients, many of whom want me to pray for them,” she said.
Mrs Petrie, 45, is a community nurse employed by North Somerset Primary Care Trust to carry out home visits to sick and elderly patients.
The incident which led to her suspension took place at the home of a woman patient in Winscombe, North Somerset.
“It was around lunchtime and I had spent about 20 to 25 minutes with her. I had applied dressings to her legs and shortly before I left I said to her: ‘Would you like me to pray for you?’.
“She said ‘No, thank you.’ And I said: ‘OK.’ I only offered to pray for her because I was concerned about her welfare and wanted her to get better.”
However, after the incident on December 15, she was contacted by the trust and asked to explain her actions.
The woman patient, who is believed to be in her late 70s, is understood to have complained to the trust.
Mrs Petrie will not disclose the woman’s name or reveal the precise nature of her ailment because it would breach patient confidentiality.
Mrs Petrie, who lives in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, said she was initially confronted the next day by a nursing sister who said the patient had been taken aback by her question about prayer.
“I said: ‘I am sorry. Did I offend or upset her?’ The sister said: ‘No, no. She was just a bit taken back. You must be aware of your professional code of conduct. I would be careful.’
“But the next day my coordinator left a message on my home phone and I realised this had been taken further.”
Mrs Petrie said that she often offers to pray for her patients and that many take her up on it.
She either prays with them or after she has left their home. The nurse has been a committed Christian since she was ten ““ after her mother died of breast cancer.
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