Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Sunday, 1 February 2009

Nurse suspended for prayer offer

Caroline Petrie defends her actions

A Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery.

Community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, says she asked an elderly woman patient during a home visit if she wanted her to say a prayer for her.

The patient complained to the health trust about Mrs Petrie who follows the Baptist faith.

She was suspended, without pay, on 17 December and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting next week.

Power of prayer

Mrs Petrie, who carries out home visits in North Somerset, said she had asked the patient if she would like a prayer said for her after she had put dressings on the woman's legs.

The patient, believed to be in her 70s, refused and Mrs Petrie insists that she left the matter alone.

The sick woman contacted the trust about the incident and Mrs Petrie was challenged by her superiors.


We are always keen to be respectful of our patients' views and sensitivity as well as those of our staff

North Somerset Primary Care Trust

Mrs Petrie said: "The woman mentioned it to the sister who did her dressing the following day. She said that she wasn't offended but was concerned that someone else might be.

"I was spoken to by my manager. She said 'I've got a letter in one hand and an incident form in the other. You won't be able to work until we've investigated this incident'."

Mrs Petrie, who qualified as a nurse in 1985, said she became a Christian following the death of her mother.

"My faith got stronger and I realised God was doing amazing things in my life.

"I saw my patients suffering and as I believe in the power of prayer, I began asking them if they wanted me to pray for them. They are absolutely delighted."

A spokesman for North Somerset Primary Care Trust said: "Caroline Petrie has been suspended pending an investigation into the matter.

"She is a bank nurse and has been told we will not be using her in this capacity until the outcome of our investigation is known.

"We always take any concerns raised by our patients most seriously and conscientiously investigate any matter of this nature brought to our attention.

"We are always keen to be respectful of our patients' views and sensitivity as well as those of our staff."

Mrs Petrie says that she has taken advice from the Christian Legal Centre, which aims to protect the religious freedom of people who follow the Christian faith.

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