Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 18:02 UK

Support for nurse in crucifix row

Shirley Chaplin
Shirley Chaplin has worn her cross since her confirmation in 1971

A Devon nurse's campaign to be allowed to continue wearing a crucifix at work has been taken up by her local MP and a church leader.

Shirley Chaplin, 54, of Exeter, said she was removed from front-line duties for refusing to take off her cross.

Richard Younger-Ross, Lib Dem MP for Teignbridge, said it appeared to be a case of "religious bias".

But the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust has denied it is preventing her from expressing her beliefs.

Demonstration of faith

Mr Younger-Ross said: "This appears to be a case of religious bias and political correctness being wrapped up as health and safety when it's nothing of the sort."

He added that people should not have to conceal their faith as part of their work in the NHS.

The vicar at the Anglican church Mrs Chaplin attends, Christchurch in Exeter, said the stand she had taken was "admirable" and she was not a "flippant" woman.

The Reverend John Eustace added: "Shirley, at the time of her confirmation in 1971, put that cross on as a demonstration of her faith and to her it is essential to wear that cross."

The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust has said its uniform and dress code prohibits front-line staff wearing any type of necklace because of health and safety concerns.

Devon MP Richard Younger-Ross said it appeared to be a case of religious bias

The trust said it would only be acceptable to wear a crucifix pinned inside a uniform lapel or pocket.

It said it had tried to find a compromise, but wearing a crucifix was not a "requirement of Christian faith".

It admitted that there were possible lapses on uniform policy among the 6,000 hospital staff but line managers were expected to address them.

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