Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 16:20 UK

Muslim quits over bare arm policy

A Muslim radiographer has resigned from a Berkshire hospital over the NHS's "bare below the elbows" hygiene policy.

The unnamed agency worker claimed she was being discriminated against over her religious beliefs by the policies at Reading's Royal Berkshire Hospital.

This included the Islamic teaching that women should cover the body in public.

The NHS dress code was introduced in January to combat superbugs such as MRSA. The trust said the policy was explained when she first began work.

The trust chaplain and Imam both stand behind our 'bare below the elbows policy'
Clare Edmondson
Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust
Clare Edmondson, director of human resources at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Infection control is a major issue for hospitals across the NHS.

"We have an excellent track record in this area and to maintain this we have introduced a 'bare below the elbows' policy for all staff or agency employees working within clinical areas.

"This policy was explained to her when she first started work at the trust.

"We are therefore surprised that she has knowingly worked within the policy for seven weeks and only now has this been raised as an issue."

She added that when the former employee "voiced her objection" she accepted the opportunity to meet with the trust chaplain.

However, the agency worker, who took X-rays and scans and was reportedly employed in June, declined the chance to meet with an Imam to discuss her concerns.

"The trust chaplain and Imam both stand behind our 'bare below the elbows policy' and support the trust in this instance," Ms Edmondson said.

"They do not cite any diversity issue and agree that the policy is an acceptable professional requirement for everyone who works for the trust in clinical areas.

"Patient care and patient safety is our prime concern."

A spokesman for The Quilliam Foundation, a specialist think tank and campaign group that believes that Western Muslims should revive Western Islam and thereby find harmony in West-Islam relations, said: "This is not a religious issue."


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