The Department of Health has amended its guidance on uniforms and workwear to address concerns that Muslim clinicians and students were discriminated against by the adoption of a blanket “bare below the elbows” policy.
The DH has been told that some Muslim women had even felt driven to leave their posts after being told they must be wear short sleeved tops at all times – even when not carrying out direct patient care.
In revised best practice guidance and an accompanying impact assessment published last week the DH said those difficulties had partly been created by too wide a definition of “direct patient care”, which it has now narrowed and clarified.
The guidance also says that three-quarter length sleeves can be worn in place of short sleeves but they must not be loose and should be capable of being rolled back. It says disposable elasticated over-sleeves are also acceptable, but must be put on and thrown away in the same way as disposable gloves and must be accompanied by strict hand and wrist washing.
The guidance, which draws on advice from Islamic scholars, also says the synthetic alcohol used in hospital gels does not fall under the Muslim prohibition again natural alcohol from fermented fruit or grain.