May 1, 2010

Praying Nurse Returns to Work

Prayer in the workplace is a controversial issue. Some governments and employers are becoming less tolerant of it. The UK is one place that seems unfriendly toward those who pray on the job. Caroline Petrie is a nurse who lives in the UK. She was suspended from her job after she offered to pray for a patient. After a much publicized series of meetings, she has returned to work. Mrs Petrie’s employers, North Somerset Primary Care Trust, invited her back after widespread media coverage of her story. But she delayed her return because she said she wanted to be clear about the terms of the offer.

The Trust has since acknowledged she was acting in her patient’s “best interests” and Mrs Petrie says she can still pray for patients if she asks them first “whether they have any spiritual needs”.

Mrs Petrie, a committed Christian and married mother of two, was suspended because bosses said she broke “equality and diversity” rules by offering to pray for a patient. The nurse from Weston-super-Mare is said to be “relieved” the situation has been resolved and looking forward to going back to work.

She said: “I feel really happy to be going back to work. In a way it was good to be able to talk things through with my bosses and now we all know where we stand I think it will be easier.”

She added: “I can still pray for my patients as long as I keep within the boundaries of the care plan, and ask them first whether they have any spiritual needs.”

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which backed Mrs Petrie, welcomed the decision to reinstate her. A spokesman for the CLC said: “The decision highlights the importance of being able to take personal faith into the workplace rather than leave it at the door.” The NHS trust which investigated Mrs Petrie said it recognised she was acting in the “best interests” of her patients.

In an announcement regarding Mrs Petrie’s reinstatement earlier this month, the Trust stated: “It is acceptable to offer spiritual support as part of care when the patient asks for it. “But for nurses whose principal role is giving nursing care, the initiative lies with the patient and not with the nurse. “Nurses like Caroline do not have to set aside their faith, but personal beliefs and practices should be secondary to the needs and beliefs of the patient and the requirements of professional practice.”

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