Friday, August 17, 2018

How can a dedicated nurse be sacked for handing a patient a Bible? Sarah worked for the NHS for 15 years. Then one day she was frogmarched out of hospital

Many of us who know no better might be guilty at times of taking our NHS for granted. It was different for Sarah Kuteh. She’d grown up in Sierra Leone, where disease is rampant and medicines scarce. Preventable death was a sad reality.

Having trained as a secondary school teacher, it was her intention to teach when she arrived in Britain in 1993.

But when she saw first-hand the work of doctors and nurses while working in a care home as she looked for a teaching post, she felt a sense of wonderment. Here, for the first time, she saw how desperately sick patients were given medicines denied to the people in her home country and cured.

From Sarah’s perspective, it seemed incredible. She determined to retrain as a nurse.

And that’s what she did. After qualifying in 2001, she gave 15 years dedicated service to the NHS. Sister Sarah was much loved by many colleagues and the patients she treated at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent.

But in June 2016, her association with the NHS came to an abrupt and humiliating end when she was escorted out of the building by a grim-faced matron and dismissed from her post, two months later, for ‘gross misconduct’.

What was this ‘gross misconduct’?

She had, from time to time, told patients a little about her Christian faith and the comfort it had brought her. Sometimes, she had also offered to say a prayer with them.

And on one occasion, she had given someone a Bible — a well-meaning if, she now knows, ill-advised act which ultimately sealed her fate.

Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) guidelines prohibit nurses discussing religion, unless it is initiated by a patient. When the case was referred to the NMC earlier this year, Sarah was told she had failed in the expectation for a nurse ‘to understand the importance of, and respect, equality and diversity’.

It imposed conditions of practice on her should she work as a nurse again, including having to work under the close supervision of a superior.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Sarah had committed a grievous crime.

After her dismissal, she was forced to sell her home in Bexley, Kent, because she couldn’t pay the mortgage.

For the past year, Sarah and her three daughters (she is separated from her husband) have been living in a one-bedroom flat loaned to her by a friend. The two younger daughters are sleeping on sofas in the living room.

To her friends and family, and surely to many of the patients who have received her unflinchingly dedicated care over the past 15 years, it is an unjust betrayal of Sister Sarah.

Today, 49-year-old Sarah, a member of the House of God Church, a Pentecostal movement, is by turns reflective and emotional.

She says that she recognises there may have been times when she was ‘not sensitive enough’, that a patient who may have seemed to be engaging with her may, privately, have felt uncomfortable.

Yet she becomes emotional and tearful when she talks about the daily reality of life as a ward sister. For while the NHS does amazing things, sometimes there is nothing more to be done.

‘It’s all very well but they don’t see what I have seen, how much heart you put into it. I’ve seen young mothers who have learned they are dying of cancer.

‘One patient had just been given bad news and he told me he wanted to commit suicide. They come into my office, you try to offer compassion and sympathy.’

She pauses. ‘You know, the heart has gone out of nursing. That makes me very sad.’

She believes — and many may agree — that her punishment was ‘wholly disproportionate’ to her actions.

It’s a bitter twist to her association with the NHS, the organisation which she so admired — and still does, albeit with qualifications — when she came to Britain in 1993 to start a new life.

‘When I started work in the care home, I would see patients being treated and think, “Oh my goodness, they’re getting better!” I thought, “Wow, I want to be part of the team.” It’s a buzz that never goes away.’

She worked in A&E, children’s wards, maternity and intensive care units.

In 2007, she took a position in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Darent Valley Hospital, run by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, and in 2012 she was made an Intensive Care Sister.

In 2015, however, she became unwell herself with a condition which required surgery. After five months off work recovering, it was felt it would be best for her to return to a less pressurised environment and so she joined a pre-op assessment ward.

Here, one of Sarah’s duties was to go through an assessment questionnaire with patients.

One of the questions asked whether or not the patients followed a particular religion and, if so, were they practising or non-practising.

‘Someone might say, I’m Church of England but I don’t practise,’ explains Sarah.

In this context, then, you can see how a dialogue about faith might develop, especially with patients facing surgery which some feared they may not wake up from.

Nevertheless, Sarah is adamant she never went about ‘prescribing’ Christianity, maintaining she would only ever tell a patient how her faith had helped her through difficult situations and occasionally offer to say a prayer for them.

But there were some patients who evidently felt uncomfortable with this, but did not tell Sister Sarah herself, instead voicing their concern to other nurses on the ward. In total, eight complaints were made about Sarah, although only one formal complaint was submitted.

Sarah was seeing up to 40 patients a week, so the number of complainants was comparatively small. The one formal complaint concerned a man in his 50s whom Sarah describes as appearing very frail. ‘He was very unkempt and when he coughed, he rattled. I felt great sympathy for him.

‘I asked him the question about religion and he said he wasn’t religious but as a boy he was a chorister at a cathedral and he used to sing The Lord Is My Shepherd. He then sang a stanza from it.

‘It was later said that I’d asked him to sing it, but I don’t remember asking him to sing at all.’

On another occasion, Sarah went through the questionnaire with an 18-year-old girl.

‘She said she was interested in spirituality and we talked a bit about this. I mentioned that my own daughter, then 18, had begun to rely on prayer recently. The subject of the Bible came up and she said she didn’t have one.

‘I said, “I tell you what, I’ve got a Bible in my bag” and I gave it to her.’

The NHS has strict rules forbidding its staff from imposing their religious beliefs upon patients. Yet, in Sarah’s defence, these do seem to be somewhat contradictory.

For while it was strictly forbidden for Sarah to instigate a discussion about religion with a patient, at the same time she was being hauled over the coals by her superiors for crossing this boundary, her face was plastered on posters across the hospital advertising the monthly prayer group in the chapel that she helped to run.

In April 2016, Sarah’s manager came into her office and said some patients had complained about her discussing her faith with them.

She reminded her that in future, she must not do so unless a conversation was initiated by the patient, to which Sarah agreed. She was also given a ‘letter of concern’ which, Sarah says, is not as serious as a formal warning.

As far as she was concerned, she was careful from then on to abide by the rules.

So she was profoundly shocked to be told one Friday two months later to stop work immediately, go home and report back on the Monday for an ‘investigative meeting’.

‘You can imagine my shock,’ says Sarah.

She took a union representative with her and the current chaplain, with whom she had organised the monthly prayer sessions.

She says it was ‘an ambush’.

Before the panel of five, she was asked if she had given a Bible to a patient. She replied readily that yes, she had done so. All hell, as it were, broke loose.

The meeting went badly. Sarah was desperately upset to learn that some patients had felt uncomfortable when she talked about her faith and asked if she could apologise to them. This request was refused.

She was informed that she was being suspended. The matron escorted her out of the building in a formal fashion.

A second ‘disciplinary’ meeting was held in August 2016, at which Sarah was told that she was dismissed.

‘I offered to work under supervision, to have a pay freeze, even a demotion,’ says Sarah. ‘But it was no good. They dismissed me. I was deeply shocked, very hurt and humiliated.’

Sarah believed — and still does — that the Trust’s actions were wholly disproportionate and sought legal help.

Her case was taken up by Christian Concern, an organisation that defends Christians who find themselves in situations such as Sarah’s, and they enlisted barrister Jonathan Storey.

‘He was my representative throughout and is a dedicated, passionate for justice barrister’, says Sarah.

But a tribunal last year upheld the Trust’s decision, saying she was correctly dismissed.

Sarah’s legal team are currently waiting to hear whether the Court of Appeal will consider her case.

In January this year, she attended a hearing of the Nursing & Midwifery Council which ruled she had breached professional standards, saying: ‘Your misconduct goes to the heart of what is the foremost and indispensable responsibility of a registered nurse.’

It said Sarah posed ‘a risk that you will, in the future, put patients at unwarranted risk of emotional harm, bring the profession into disrepute, and breach a fundamental tenet of the profession.’

Harsh words, indeed. Conditions of practice were imposed.

Sarah had held off applying for a new post in the hope she would win her tribunal and clear her name, but when that did not happen, she began looking around for work.

In April this year Sarah was relieved to be taken on at a nursing home within the private sector, albeit in a role that was closely supervised.

Following on from the NMC hearing, Sarah penned a ‘written reflective piece’ to the NMC, about how she should behave as a nurse, and this met with a favourable response.

The NMC said she had demonstrated ‘full remediation and a high level of insight in regard to your failings’. Last month, the restrictions on her were lifted.

She is happy in her new post and understandably wary about going back to the NHS. ‘It seems you get blamed very easily, very quickly,’ she says.


Google Played Politics And Lost

It's amusing that the article below by the redoubtable Claire Lehmann appeared in "Penthouse".  I too once had a quite serious article appear in that august publication

Claire is what in Australian slang we would call a "good sort"

Earlier this year, author of the infamous Google Memo, James Damore, together with Harmeet Dhillon, a female Republican lawyer, brought a class action against the internet giant, accusing the company of discriminating against white men in particular, and conservatives in general. Within the same month, lawyers representing women who worked at Google brought a revised class action lawsuit to court, making the claim that female Googlers were, and still are, routinely paid less, assigned to lower positions and promoted less often than the men in the company.

The company is thus facing legal action from both ends of the political spectrum: progressive feminists and a Republican representing white males. It’s hard to say what the outcome of these two lawsuits will be at this stage. Google will surely put up a formidable defence on both fronts, while leaders of other large organisations – both inside Silicon Valley and outside – will be watching intently. While the internet behemoth has pockets deep enough to absorb such legal costs, the public relations fall out will be damaging. Each time a new piece of evidence hits the headlines, the company looks more like a dysfunctional soap opera than a dynamic tech innovator. 

As of February 2018, Damore’s complaint against the internet giant consisted of an 87-page long expose featuring countless screenshots from internal message boards, which employees used to communicate with each other. This communication, it is alleged, is evidence of widespread prejudice against white males and conservatives within the organisation.

Of course, these screenshots present a ‘cherry-picked’ view; the snippets don’t give the bigger picture of staff communication, which for the most part is likely mundane and reasonable. Nevertheless, the snippets that are shown present a salacious picture of unprofessional behaviour and a culture of normalised intolerance.

On white men, one Google employee writes that they “already have all the advantages in the world” (Complaint 40) and that “It’s not sexism/racism if it’s against males/whites” (Exhibit 76). Another shares their opinion: “By being a white male, you are in a privileged class that is actively harmful to others, whether you like it or not. So, no, you really actually don’t get to complain about your right to an opinion” (Exhibit 53). Another employee comments, “The only way we ‘move past color’ in America is for white people to shut up and listen” (Exhibit 47). Terms frequently used in communications included “mansplaining” (Exhibit 74) “whitesplaining” (Exhibit 58), “white fragility” (Exhibit 59), “white tears” (Exhibit 85), and “toxic whiteness” (Exhibit 61).

It used to be that corporations would go to great lengths to avoid being seen as politicised to the public, the reasoning being obvious: if you take a political stance, you are likely to alienate potential customers. But things have changed – particularly within the United States. Companies now engage in flamboyant virtue-signalling to attract certain markets and offset their image of greedy corporations. Google has long been accused of tax avoidance, privacy breaches and other kinds of unethical behaviour. To compensate for this, it appears that they have turned up the dial on their commitment to “social justice”.

When the company was founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google’s mission statement was “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Their unofficial motto was “don’t be evil,” which later became an official motto of “do the right thing”. In recent years the company has increasingly aligned itself with social justice and progressive values in the public sphere. How much of this signalling is sincere, and how much is confected is up for debate. But what is clear, is that for some staff within the organisation, these commitments to social justice have not yet gone far enough.

In the lawsuit filed against Google claiming discrimination against women, three former Google employees: Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, accused the company of systematically paying women less than men. It has been reported that in coming to their view they compiled a spreadsheet of confidential information – other employees’ salaries – comparing rates of their colleagues by gender. This spreadsheet ended up being leaked to the press, and was parodied by the satirical site The Onion, in a piece entitled: “Google Now Giving Female Employees a Free Day Each Week to Work on Lawsuits.”

One of the complainants, Kelly Ellis, has alleged that she left the company because of its “sexist culture,” and has tweeted about being sexually harassed by male staff. Her accounts of being harassed include an engineering director telling her that it was “taking all of [his] self-control not to grab your ass right now,” another staff member telling her that “You look amazing in that bathing suit, like a rockstar,” and overhearing a male staff member say to another, “Doesn’t Kelly look amazing heh, heh.”

In January, the women’s lawsuit was thrown out by a (female) judge for being too vague. The judge intimated that while the discrepancies in pay were there, the complaint did not adequately prove that the male and female employees were doing the same work, and so discrimination could not be proven. The women have said that they will be “rebooting” their accusations, returning to court with the required evidence; meanwhile, newspapers around the world run headlines which scream: “Google Sued for Gender Discrimination”.

The unfolding Google drama should be seen as a cautionary lesson about what can happen when a company lets identity politics through its doors. Identity politics: the tendency of people to form political alliances according to their membership to a group based on race, gender, sexuality or disability, as opposed to shared principles, is corrosive to a large corporate organisation, because it exaggerates what psychologists call our in-group/out-group biases, sabotaging team spirit in the process.

Psychologists explain it like this: human beings have evolved to operate in tribes and have learned to be somewhat wary of those who come from different tribes. In experiments conducted in the 1970s, psychologists found that positive feelings towards one’s in-group and negative feelings towards an out-group were easily activated and easily maintained. The human predilection towards tribalism appears universal and instinctive.

In a famous experiment called the Minimal Group Paradigm, schoolboys were assigned to two different groups according to whether they preferred the abstract paintings of Klimt, or the abstract paintings of Klee. When they were pitted against each other in a series of games, they consistently favoured members of their own group, and consistently competed against members of the out-group, despite the fact that the distinction between them was completely arbitrary. Further experiments have found that this in-group/out-group bias can be activated as something as simple as a coin toss.

What this means for the workplace is that policies and initiatives that are designed to improve ‘diversity’ can end up backfiring on a company, because they can activate this in-group/out-group bias.

Programs that are well-intentioned can actually cause more harm than good if they are implemented without sensitivity to whether or not people feel as if they pit against each other in little mini-tribes. Such programs can include “implicit bias training,” which is now being blamed for causing “backfire effects” within workplaces. And this training, which is based on a test which is in its own right controversial (many psychologists argue that it does not measure actual bias) was implemented by Google across its entire workforce in 2013.

Around five years ago, Google rolled out its unconscious bias training – inspired by the disputed Implicit Association Test (IAT) – to its entire workforce of 60,000 people. It consisted of a presentation that lasted between 60 and 90 minutes.

The presentation began with slides explaining that implicit bias was natural: it was in all of us, and we were born with it, because the human brain evolved to be efficient and take shortcuts. The presentation gently explained that unfortunately some of these shortcuts were bad and had unwanted effects in the workplace. The slides then proceeded to state:

“Even a tiny bit of bias can have big consequences.”


“Companies with higher proportions of women board directors outperform others by 53 per cent”.

 Since Google rolled out this training, its effectiveness has been disputed. For example, a large systemic review conducted in 2016, and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that implicit bias training had no lasting effect at all. Another large 2017 meta-analysis (yet to be published) found that while “implicit bias is malleable,” any change in implicit bias “does not necessarily lead to changes in explicit bias or behaviour”.

What this training does do, however, is bring skin colour and gender identity to the fore. It increases people’s awareness of their identity as “male” or “female” or ”white or “black” thereby creating an in-group of “female Googlers” and “minority Googlers” and an out-group of “white male Googlers”. It’s no wonder, that five years later, the company finds itself being sued by representatives of both identity groups, aggrieved that the company is making them feel uncomfortable, and angered that things have not gone their way.

Due to the aggressive diversity efforts aimed at promoting women and minorities within the company, Google’s leaders appear to have activated a sense of grievance and factionalism among their employee community. Rather than working together as a cohesive and trusting team, employees have compiled spreadsheets about each other, have taken screenshots of each other’s communications, and have tweeted out their frustrations for all the world to see.

Why is this happening? We can blame identity politics. While many groups can claim ownership to historical injustices, and have legitimate concerns, identity politics can also be taken too far. And when it is taken too far, what emerges is a rejection of teamwork based on shared values and a shared vision, and what emerges instead is a zero-sum competition for power and resources. And within the workplace, this is poison.


Evangelical Anglicans Pin 95 Theses-Style Complaint on LGBT Issues to Doors of 5 UK Cathedrals

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, anonymous evangelical Anglicans posted a 95 Theses-style complaint on the doors of five British cathedrals. The first complaints went up on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany, and the documents pinned to the doors referenced Luther in calling for the Church of England to follow the Bible on LGBT issues.

"500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany," one document reads. "He did it because the church had become corrupt. Today a Declaration is being fixed to a cathedral door here in England because the Established Church in our land is becoming corrupt."

"The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice on the ground has already changed: clergy are adopting lifestyles which are not biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God," the document explains. "This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across the whole of the Church of England."

The document issues a very hefty charge. "When the church redefines sin and eliminates repentance, it can no longer offer the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus; the church no longer remains distinctly Christian; it is no longer salt and light in the world," the declaration reads.

This document ends with a clear Reformation-style challenge. "Where leaders refuse to repent and submit themselves to the Word of God, the Lord raises up new leadership for His church and new structures: just as He did through Martin Luther 500 years ago."

Along with this declaration, Anglicans posted the Southwark Declaration, a statement affirming traditional biblical sexuality similar to the Nashville Statement.

"We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct," the declaration reads. "We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10.7, Matthew 19.5), the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse."

The declaration concludes by calling upon "the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese, alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths, live by them, and to teach in accordance with them."

Anonymous Anglicans posted the documents to multiple churches on different days throughout the week.


Australians racist?  Even welfare-dependent Third-world immigrants say they are well-accepted

A new study from Australian researchers shows that refugees and new immigrants integrate well in Australia – especially in regional areas.

Contrary to recent comments from the multicultural affairs minister, Alan Tudge, that migrants who reside together “largely communicate in their mother tongue [and] are slower integrating”, the research found that refugees were welcomed by their new communities, found it “easy” to get along, and felt a strong sense of belonging to their new homes.

Researchers surveyed 214 refugees – 155 adults and 59 children – from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who all had been recently settled in Queensland across Brisbane, Logan and Toowoomba.

81% of those in regional Toowoomba said they found it “very easy” or “easy” to make friends in Australia. 62% of refugees in Brisbane and Logan said the same, for an average of 68% across Queensland.

82% of refugee children said they felt they belonged to the local community – either “always”, “most of the time” or “often”. Only 18% said they belonged “occasionally” or not at all. Half of all refugees surveyed said it was “very easy” or “easy” to talk to their new neighbours.

The study’s co-author, Professor Jock Collins from the University of Technology Sydney, said this refuted the idea that migrants formed linguistic bubbles.

Only 6% of the new arrivals said they spoke no English. 47% said they spoke it “not very well”, 38% spoke English “well” and 9% spoke it “very well”.

“In our experience the people we are talking to are really, really keen to learn English,” he said.

Measures of belonging were generally higher in Toowomba, which the researchers said was due to a proactive and welcoming community, and worse in Logan, which has a higher index of social disadvantage.

“We avoid the term ‘integrate into’, because integration is a two-way process,” said co-author Professor Carol Reid from Western Sydney University. “It requires the local community support. Where there is strong support, you find there are no problems.

“With the whole issue of English language learning, in the 1980s we had more funding around multicultural policy, and people could learn English on the job. The tension between employment and English could be resolved by that.”

The study found the unemployment rate was high among the new arrivals – with only 18% in paid employment – but Collins said that would change with time.

“We know that a lot of the refugees we talk to are putting off looking for a job until their English is better. We will be talking to them next year and expect to see an increase in the employment rate.

“For the engineers and architects and pharmacists, the professions have severe gatekeepers for their profession that they have to hurdle. For a lot of the others, it’s a bit of a Catch-22, they won’t get a job without Australian experience.

“There needs to be a way where these refugees can get work experience, and a recognition of prior learning. A lot of them are very confident, they are excellent at their skills.”

Collins said that the results of their survey showed that Australia had great potential to take more refugees.

“Most people don’t know that in 2017 Australia took in more than double the number of refugees than it usually takes. The sky didn’t fall in – in fact it worked quite well.

“Regional and rural Australia has an appetite for more migrants and refugees. It proves to us that the bush is not redneck, it is supportive of diverse communities.”

Across Queensland, 60% of refugees in Toowoomba said it was easy to talk to their neighbours, compared with 46% in Brisbane and 27% in Logan.

100% of refugees said they felt safe living in Toowoomba, and 85% across Queensland (and a majority in every city) said they believed they had found a neighbourhood that was a good place to bring up children.

Even with its comparatively poorer score, 76% of the refugees in Logan said they always, most of the time, or often, belonged.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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