• Trust non-executive director was suspended following comments on same-sex adoption
  • Richard Page claims he has been barred from other NHS roles for his religious beliefs
  • NHS Improvement faces tribunal in August

A trust non-executive director is bringing a religious discrimination complaint against NHS Improvement, claiming he has been barred from other NHS roles because of his religious beliefs.

Richard Page was a non-executive at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust until he was suspended in March last year by NHS Improvement. His term as a director has since ended.

At the time of the suspension, NHSI also barred Mr Page from holding any other positions in the NHS, once his term as non-excutive director elapsed.

Mr Page said he has been discriminated against for his Christian beliefs.

The former NHS finance director’s suspension was in response to comments he made against same-sex adoption on a television programme. He had already been dismissed from his role as a magistrate by the Ministry of Justice over the same comments. 

Mr Page, from Ashford, Kent, told the BBC: ”My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child. My feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adoptive parents.” 

Kent and Medway chair Andrew Ling wrote to the NHS Trust Development Authority – one of the two statutory bodies that comprise NHSI – requesting Mr Page’s suspension in March 2016.

His letter said: “Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well established. It is vital that patients and local population are confident that [the trust] will challenge stigma or discrimination.”

NHSI then suspended Mr Page.

In August, NHSI’s termination of appointments panel wrote to Mr Page. The contents of this letter have not been fully revealed, and an employment tribunal has found that the meaning of the letter could be disputed. 

A report of the ruling of the tribunal’s initial hearing in January said: “The consequences of the letter of 19 August is likely to be the subject of argument but might be interpreted as a recommendation that it was not in the interests of the health service for the claimant to serve as a non-executive director.”

The document, published on 20 April, added: “The claimant says [he suffered] detriment because of his religion and belief. The claimant states that he is a Christian and his relevant philosophical belief was that it is in the best interest of a child to have a mother and a father.”

NHSI’s case that Mr Page’s claim was out of time was rejected and the case will be heard at the London (South) Employment Tribunal from 1 August.

NHSI said it would not comment on an ongoing case.

HSJ has approached Mr Page’s legal representative for comment.