The British nurse who was suspended without pay for offering to pray for a patient's recovery has been reinstated and will return to work in the next few days.
Caroline Petrie, an evangelical Christian from Weston-super-Mare, was subjected to disciplinary action by North Somerset Primary Care Trust even though the patient was not offended and made no complaint.
Petrie, who was supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was summoned last week to a disciplinary hearing on the charge that she had failed to demonstrate a "personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity."
North Somerset Primary Care Trust said Thursday that it recognized Petrie, a mother of two, had been acting in the "best interests of her patients" and that nurses did not have to "set aside their faith" in the workplace and could "continue to offer high-quality care for patients while remaining committed to their beliefs."
It also conceded that for some people prayer was an "integral part of health care and the healing process."
Sir Patrick Cormack, the Tory MP for South Staffordshire and a committed Anglican, told Parliament that the case illustrated the “utter absurdities” of political correctness.
"This is a great victory for Petrie, and for common sense," Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said. "Today’s decision highlights the importance of being able to take personal faith into the workplace rather than being forced to leave it at the door for fear of being silenced by equality and diversity policies."
The turnaround by the trust comes amid a tightening up by government on how far public sector workers can go in communicating their faith.
According to a document published by the Department of Health last month, any attempt by a doctor or nurse to proselytize during the course of their work is to be considered harassment or intimidation and will be subject to disciplinary procedures.