The South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust has settled a discrimination case with a catholic chaplain who claims was made redundant because of his views on same-sex marriage.
In 2019, Rev Dr Patrick Pullicino was assigned to see a male patient who had specifically requested to see a Catholic priest. During the meeting, the patient asked the chaplain’s views on marrying his partner.
Unhappy with Rev Dr Pullicino’s answer, the patient complained to the Trust and subsequently, an investigation was launched into Rev Pullicino’s conduct.
In a response letter to the complaint, the acting executive director of the Trust apologised and said the policy on Equality and Diversity of the Trust holds greater importance than religious beliefs.
A few months later, Rev Dr Pullicino was dismissed because of “budgetary constraints”.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Rev Pullicino accused the Trust of harassment and victimisation. A trial had been scheduled for July but the Trust has now settled the case, awarding him with £10,000 in compensation for “perceived injury to feelings".
Reacting to the news, Rev Dr Pullicino said he was “pleased and relieved” and called for a government inquiry into “restoring Hospital Chaplaincy to its rightful place”.
“The documented downgrading of Christian belief by the Chief Executive undermines not only her NHS trust but also all the patients under her care as well as the chaplains of different faiths that she employs.
“There is a tendency throughout the NHS to force their patients to accept generic “spiritual” care instead of giving support for their Christian beliefs. Christian faith is particularly important in sickness, particularly when in danger of death.
“Limiting this is inhumane, in addition to being outside the law. Good, religion-specific chaplaincy support is under threat in the NHS but is essential in all hospitals. A government inquiry is urgently needed.”