Janice Prendergast was a devout Christian Scientist patient of Sister Julienne's in Series 4, Episode 6. Sadly, Janice found out that her son had osteogenisis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, causing his bones break easily. Their case draws attention from Dr. Turner who believes the baby’s multiple fractures are the result of abuse. It should be noted that due to the fact that Mr. Prendergast has a violent history and is prone to yelling when upset, Dr. Turner was not wrong for suspecting abuse.
Janice is first seen giving birth to a seemingly healthy baby boy, while her husband, Raymond Sr. and a Christian Scientist minister prayed for her. Janice’s baby screams loudly upon delivery and as he rests in his mother’s arms. Mr and Mrs. Prendergast marvel at their son and they name him Raymond Jr.
Later, when mentioned by Sister Julienne, it is revealed that Mrs. Prendergast isn’t having an easy time and that the baby isn’t latching.
Mr and Mrs. Prendergast have made their home in a brand new tower block, and as Sister Julienne arrives for her home visit, she hears their baby screaming at the top of its lungs. A neighbor irritatedly mentions that none of her children ever cried like the Prendergast baby. Just then, Mr. Prendergast leaves the flat with an empty bottle of milk, and he asks her how he is supposed to work with a baby that cries like this all the time. After he leaves, the neighbour relays that “it’s not the baby, it’s him.”
Inside, Janice is trying to clean up spilled milk. The baby is still crying, and Sister Julienne assures that Janice is likely doing nothing wrong, but that he sounds very distressed. As she checks him over, she notes that there is a bit of swelling at his collarbone. Sister Julienne suspects a broken collarbone but says she can’t be sure without an x-ray. She assures a horrified Janice that it sometimes happens during a difficult birth, and that baby’s bones heal quickly.
The next time Sister Julienne arrives at the flat, she notes that baby Raymond has a “magnificent pram” However, she notes the baby is still quite distressed, saying that the pain killer they were prescribed should have calmed him, and asked when the child’s last dose was. Janice bites her lip and says she and her husband are praying for the child and that Christian Scientists allow for the setting of broken bones, but not the analgesic treatment of them. Sister Julienne insists that although she is “the last person” who would come between another with their faith, she insists that Raymond is a tiny baby and needs pain treatment, else he will suffer. Janice refuses, but obviously has trouble with knowing her baby is in pain. Still, she tells the Sister that to give him medicine, will “interfere with the prayers” for their son. Sister Julienne convinces Janice to allow her to give Raymond the pain medicine, and then to pray afterward.
Later, Mrs. Prendergast takes baby Raymond to the community clinic, looking for Sister Julienne as the baby won’t stop crying. However, the Sister isn’t there and she gets help from Patsy. She tells Patsy he started crying as soon as she left her house and that she thinks there’s something wrong with his leg.
Upon examination, Dr. Turner finds that Raymond’s leg is broken. He tells Janice not to move the baby and that he will need to be looked after in the hospital.
At the hospital, Dr. Turner talks with the attending doctor and learns that there’s no way the leg fracture could have been an accident. Janice is upset and confused as to why the baby has another fracture. Dr. Turner tells them the doctors don’t know how the break could have happened, and tries to get them to offer any idea how the baby’s leg was broken. Ray Sr. becomes angry, knowing Dr. Turner suspects they hurt the baby. He becomes irate and yells at the doctor, causing Janice to timidly try to calm her husband down, telling the doctor that they love their son. It is clear that Mr. Prendergasts’ outburst has further fueled his suspicions.
Dr. Turner then speaks with Sister Julienne and tells her of his worries of child abuse. He tells her he finds the idea of the Prendergasts’ abusing their infant “inconceivable” and asks the Sister if she’s certain the first break was a result of the birth. She says that at the time she was sure it was, but cautions him against “jumping to conclusions”. Still, he tells her the baby must be protected against a third painful break. She asks him what they should do, and he says they should contact the child’s welfare office, the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children).
The next day, Janice and Ray Sr. are summoned to an office at the hospital where an NSPCC representative waits to question them. Dr. Turner and baby Raymond’s physician wait with him. As the official introduces himself, Mr. Prendergast turns on Dr. Turner and accuses him of being the one who reported them for abuse and he becomes aggressive. The official tries to calm the situation, but Janice rushes from the room to find her baby. When the attending physician tries to stop her, Ray Sr. shoves him.
Dr. Turner follows Janice to the infant’s ward, where she finds her son is missing from his cradle. She becomes frantic and asks Dr. Turner where the baby is. He tells her Raymond was moved to a different ward, because the NSPCC have a court order to have Raymond removed from the Prendergasts’ care. Janice falls to the floor, beside herself.
Back in their home, Janice and her husband are in shock, but Janice asks Ray Sr. if he hurt their son. Ray is horrified by the question and doesn’t answer. Janice apologizes and starts to cry. Ray leaves the house. In his own home, Shelagh awakens to find Patrick looking down at Angela in her cradle. Patrick tells her he feels awful about having the Prendergasts’ baby taken from them, but feels it was the right thing to do.
A few days later, Sister Julienne visits a depressed Janice in her flat, finding it to be a mess. She tells the Sister she’s keeping the pram clean for when they get Raymond back. She asks if the foster family is taking good care of him, and Sister Julienne assures her that Raymond is being well looked after. Janice starts to cry and says the foster family doesn’t love him the way she does, and that she’s been praying to get her son back. Sister Julienne tells her the only way to get him back is if she can prove she can protect her son, if she can explain why the fractures happened. Janice says she doesn’t know how the baby broke its bones, and that her husband has been out fighting “like he used to” since their son was apprehended.
Janice asks where god is when you need him.
Baby Raymond’s foster mother rushes into Dr. Turner’s office just as Shelagh is closing up, scared that there is something wrong with the baby. The foster gently lays the baby down on the exam table, saying that she and her husband have been “so careful with this baby” due to his injuries. She tells the doctor that every time she picks up the baby he screams. The foster points out a lump on the baby’s back and Shelagh and Patrick realize it is another fracture.
He immediately assures the foster that he does not suspect her for abuse, and checks the baby’s soft spot, finding that it is bigger than average. He does a quick check in his medical text book and tells Shelgh to call for an ambulance, telling his wife he now suspects the baby has Osteogenisis Imperfecta, a very rare, genetic disease causing very fragile bones, thus explaining the baby’s multiple fractures.
Sister Julienne and Dr. Turner go to the Predergasts’ home to explain the diagnosis. Ray Sr. Is disgusted by Dr. Turner, yelling that the doctor was “too busy blaming us, to notice Raymond was sick!” Sister Julienne reminds Mr. Prendergast that their son’s disease is extremely rare. Dr. Turner motions for the Sister not to defend him and tries to offer the Prendergasts’ a ride to the hospital to see Raymond. Janice coldly declines, not even meeting his eyes.
The incident with the Prendergast baby causes Dr. Turner to lose faith in his abilities as a doctor, and the guilt of taking a child away from its innocent parents causes a bout of depression for the doctor. Dr. Turner takes a brief leave of absence from his practice. Later, when Dr. Turners many patients send their love and wishes for recovery to him, he regains his faith that he does more good than harm and returns to his practice.
Later, Sister Julienne returns to the Prendergasts’ home just as a Christian Scientist minister was leaving, telling the Sister they were just finishing praying for the baby’s full recovery and thanking god for his return. Sister Julienne asks if Janice fully understands the prognosis for Osteogenisis, and reminds her that baby Raymond will never be fully well, will likely never walk, and will likely have a short life. Confident in her faith, Janice tells the Sister that “He made the cripples walk”. Janice says she nearly lost her faith when Raymond was taken from her, but it was restored when her prayers for his return were answered.
Janice tells Sister Julienne that she has to believe her prayers are working, and it is clear that to not have faith in prayer, Janice would likely have no hope for her baby, which would be unbearable.