Following overwhelming public support for Caroline Petrie, the Christian nurse who was suspended after she offered to pray for an elderly patient, her employers have caved said she could return to her job.
The row over her treatment has reached the House of Commons, with Sir Patrick Cormack, the Tory MP for South Staffordshire, claiming that her case had highlighted the “utter absurdities” of political correctness.
Although Mrs Petrie was relieved her ordeal was over, fears have been raised that new rules could lead to the dismissal of any health care worker who tries to talk about their faith to others.
A little-noticed document published by the Department of Health last month gives warning that attempts by doctors or nurses to preach to other staff or patients will be treated as harassment or intimidation under disciplinary procedures.
But it does not make clear the limits of acceptable discussion about religion.
Faith groups said the guidelines were so vague that they could mean action could be taken against anyone who talks about their beliefs to fellow workers or patients.
The document, called Religion or Belief: A Practical Guide for the NHS, states: “Members of some religions... are expected to preach and to try to convert other people. In a workplace environment this can cause many problems, as non-religious people and those from other religions or beliefs could feel harassed and intimidated by this behaviour.
“To avoid misunderstandings and complaints on this issue, it should be made clear to everyone from the first day of training and/or employment, and regularly restated, that such behaviour, notwithstanding religious beliefs, could be construed as harassment under the disciplinary and grievance procedures.”
Full story: Telegraph
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