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A prayer could be the best healer

Each day brings more despair when I read about the latest antics of the mini-Hitlers who are taking over our country. And it gets worse by the day.

Yesterday, we heard the story about a dedicated nurse who offered a crumb of Christian comfort to an elderly patient and suddenly found herself suspended from work, facing disciplinary action which could result in dismissal.

Community nurse, Caroline Petrie, is a devout Christian who probably puts great store in Christian charity. While visiting 70-year-old May Phippen she offers to say a prayer for her. Mrs Phippen is not offended by the offer but she happens to mention it to a different nurse the next day. Suddenly the brown stuff hits the fan.

It's possible the other nurse is not a Christian but she certainly appears to be a trouble-maker. She hot foots straight to a nursing sister and turns a minor incident into a diversity crime - the dreaded evil that any one of us might commit just by having thoughts passing through our minds. In this case, the anguish apparently caused to Mrs Phippen was that she was "taken aback" by the comment, although that was probably someone else's interpretation because Mrs Phippen seemingly took it all in good faith and declined the offer.

I tried to put myself in Mrs Phippen's position and flashed back a couple of years to when I was in hospital after my heart attack. The doctors were treating their verdict as a "patient doesn't need to be told too much" case. Having decided that my smoking was the cause, they refused to enter into any discussion about the black art of 'doctorism'.  They were not interested in hearing my views on other possible causes like atmospheric pollution from the M25 or factory chimneys along the Thames gateway, the fact that I had always eaten and enjoyed fatty foods, or the stress caused by having the liars of New Labour running the country. In their view, the cigarettes were to blame and they would have it no other way. Strange really that they should take this attitude. I was the only smoker in the intensive care unit - the other five had either given up smoking or had never smoked at all. Yet they all had more serious heart problems than me.

To get any information at all, I had to rely on the nurses, and most were very helpful. There were a couple of agency nurses who annoyed me - one who spent the whole shift sitting down reading a novel and another who demanded the right to sleep through most of the night shift - but I didn't mention it to anyone. It was up to the hospital management to check who they hired and make sure the work quota was not being abused.

The other nurses were brilliant. They explained everything I needed to know and helped me to understand my illness. I think one also said "God bless" when the lights were turned off for the night. During my six-day stay, I had a couple of visits from a lady who asked if I wanted to use the hospital chapel at all. I explained that I had "slipped off the path" many years previously and wouldn't require God's services. In other words, thanks but no thanks - same as Mrs Phippen.

If one of the nurses had asked if she could say a prayer for me I would have said the same. Although I now have fairly agnostic views, I accept that many people are devout Christians and truly believe in God's powers. Nothing wrong with that. If we all held identical views it would be a very dull world indeed. So if anyone - nurse or otherwise - wants to pray for me that's entirely up to them. And if they were to ask my permission beforehand, my only fear would be that they might be Jehovah's Witnesses, in which case I would dread the thought that they would subject me to a recruitment campaign. And I couldn't stand that once more in my life!

So here we have Nurse Caroline Petrie asking if she can say a prayer for May Phippen and another nurse immediately reports her to a nursing sister. This nursing sister obviously has time on her hands to cast aside all patient health concerns and drags out the nursing equivalent of the Queen's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions which happen to state that a nurse 'must demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity and must not use her professional status to promote causes that are not related to health'.

So the case escalates to the North Somerset Primary Care Trust where it lands on the desk of one of the army of politically-correct morons whose employment seems to have absorbed most of the extra billions the government set aside to improve the health service. You may have come across them yourself. To the untrained eye they look just like clipboard walkers except that they have very important titles like Diversity Coordination Executives. The reason they mainly walk clipboards is that for much of their working day there is little else to do unless a really meaty case pops up where a nurse who is rushed off her feet all day actually offers to pray for a patient. Such sacrilege!!

In a sane world, the Diversity Coordination Executive would be called a clerk and, because her office only employed ten people rather than hundreds, she would be rushed off her feet booking appointments, filing patient records, etc. On receiving a report about a nurse offering to pray for a patient, she would say, "What?! Do you think I have nothing better to do than listen to your tittle-tattle?"

She might follow that up with, "Has the patient made a formal complaint? Is she mortally offended by the offer?" But no, any whiff of something which deviates slightly from the Handbook for PC Clockwork Robots is something which must be met with disciplinary hearings, immediate suspension, and threats of dismissal. The caring profession must not be seen to care for its own. After all, if a single Christian thought can cost a dedicated nurse her job and career, she can easily be replaced by hiring another nurse from the third world who struggles to make herself understood.

Where in God's name do we get all these self-important bureaucrats from? Why do we buckle under their Common Purpose methodology? Surely it's time to say, "If I mention the words 'stuffed' and 'get' can you arrange them into a meaningful statement and act on them?"

Unfortunately, that's not the way things are any more. If Nurse Petrie happens to find someone on her disciplinary panel with half a brain, she may just come through this ridiculous victimisation plot. I certainly hope she does.

But if you ever find yourself on your deathbed in North Somerset, for God's sake do not ask the nurse to say a prayer for you. Fearful of being disciplined she might just say, "Sorry, you atheist b****rd, you must die without higher intervention."

Latest ...

6th April 2009

Just to demonstrate that public outcry can pay dividends, Caroline Petrie's NHS bosses had to back down under pressure. Caroline has now been told she can return to work when she is ready.

We're pleased for Caroline and no doubt that is the end of the matter for North Somerset Primary Care Trust. But what should happen is that the tittle-tattling nurse who reported Caroline should be disciplined.

She won't be, of course!

Visitors' Comments

Chris Jones of Pembroke writes:

During my 23 yrs as a nurse it was common practice to pray with the elderly and dying, it brought them great comfort; even non-believers used to appreciate a prayer when really ill especially if they were terminal.

Many Nurses i have worked with were pretty anti-God because 'if God exists why is there so much suffering' but that is another debate, the thing is they didn't object to any Christians praying with patients, quite the opposite, anything that helped a sick/worried/frightened patient was welcomed.

Not these days. Now it is almost a crime to admit to being a Christian although something like 70% of British people say they are Christians. Sorry folks, being born in Britain doesn't make you a Christian and why the big anti-God thing when it can really help a sick person? Isn't that what nurses are for?

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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