Nurse sacked for saying church may ease stress

A Christian nurse with 40 years experience has been sacked because he said, during a training course, that going to church could ease the anxiety of a stressed patient.

Mr Anand Rao made the comment not to a real patient, but during a role-playing training event to test how he would handle advising someone with a serious heart condition to reduce stress.

Mr Rao said: “Mrs. Jones [a made-up name] told me that her doctor had informed her that she would not live long and this had created stress.

“I advised her going to church might ease her anxiety and stress.”

The course organiser, Leicestershire and Rutland Organisation for the Relief of Suffering, produced a report raising concerns about his performance.

The report was sent to Mr Rao’s employer, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, where he had worked as a bank staff nurse for four years.

He was later dismissed for breaching the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s code of conduct on respecting a patient’s dignity.

Earlier this year the same code resulted in Christian nurse, Caroline Petrie, being suspended because she offered to pray for a patient.

Mr Rao is considering taking legal action over his employer’s actions, which he describes as “heavy-handed and disproportionate”.

He is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) – the same organisation which backed Caroline Petrie. Her suspension was lifted after a national outcry.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of CLC, said: “How is it possible that a nurse who has served the public for 40 years should find himself dismissed because in a training exercise he advised someone to go to Church? To seek to censor and suppress this kind of language and belief is the first fruits of a closed society”.

A University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust spokesman said: “Caring at its best is our motto, and it is important that every member of our staff, permanent or otherwise, deliver the best care possible to all of our patients regardless of their personal beliefs or lifestyle choices.

“The incident which led to the launch of the investigation was unfortunately not the first. Since joining us in 2005 Mr Rao had continuously shown a disregard for the Nursing and Midwifery’s (NMC) code of conduct which he had breached on more than one occasion.

“Mr Rao was given every opportunity to assure us that this would not happen again, but he was unable to do so and showed little regard for the standards of care and professionalism that is expected of him as a nurse.”

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