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Christian nurse to be 'redeployed'


A Christian nurse facing disciplinary action for refusing to remove her cross necklace has accepted an offer of redeployment ‘under duress’ and instructed lawyers to file for discrimination.

Shirley Chaplin was called before bosses at the Royal Devon & Exeter Trust after declining to take off the jewellery when asked at work.

A spokesman for the trust said the item was in breach of both health and safety legislation and the hospital’s uniform policy, but Mrs Chaplin, who has worn the cross since starting as a nurse 30 years ago, claimed she was being persecuted because of her Christian beliefs.

‘This blatant piece of political correctness amounts to the marginalising of employees’ personal human rights, a blanket secularising and neutralising of the NHS intended to stop Christians from expressing their faith in the public services of the NHS,’ she said.

Solicitors from the Christian Legal Centre, acting on Mrs Chaplin’s behalf, said she was told on Monday that she must accept redeployment to a non-nursing role or face the sack.

The Royal Devon & Exeter Trust did not comment on the claim.


Readers' comments (13)

  • Is the issue the cross emblem, or the necklace?

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  • Is she the only nurse working for that trust wearing a necklace, I doubt it very much. It has been made too big an issue! I agree that rules are rules and health and safety is important. Is it not possible for the nurse to attach the necklace to the inside of a pocket or inside the uniform. Is this the only problem with this nurse? How many other nursing staff face redeployment due to a necklace?

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  • Most hospital trusts do not allow the wearing of a necklace for health and safety - what if an angry patient grabbed hold of it and pulled and the nurse was injured. these rules are put in place to protect employees, patients and employers. As part of a Christian family I occsaionally wear a cross but not at work - it's against the rules and I refuse to allow my daughter to wear her cross necklace at school for the same reasons, rules and safety. My daughter wearsa a pair of stud cross earrings instead - which are more acceptable from a health and safety point of view. Why do people make such a big deal over someone wearing a cross - or is it just the necklace and others are making it out ot be th ecross that's the problem. I would love to wear my weding ring at work but it has stones in which are agianst the rules - so I have bought a plain gold band to wear at work - surely healther and safety of ALL should come before religion and belief whether that be Christian, muslim etc etc etc. Just because we have a faith does not mean we are allowed to break the rules that are in place to protect all concerned - or does it?

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  • This lady needs to grow up, I to have been in nursing for 30 years and have seen so many changes good and bad. As a Roman Catholic I would love to wear my Cross but this against the rules along with my wrist watch and ring with stones, no religious link there that I can see. Health and Safety and Infection control policies are there for our protection as well as our patients.This should never have got as far as solicitors who now make a heap of money and hijack this for their own ends

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  • I think all this is getting out of hand I wear a cross as i have for 50 years It is under my uniform so cant be seen It would have to be a fluke for anyone to get injured by someone grabbing a necklace.

    What about all the other things we have to wear on our uniforms A patient collapsed on my ward and as the nurse was lying her flat the elastic that attaches the gel bottle to your pocket got caught around the patients CVP line and pulled it out! Do all these items not need looking at?

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  • If this is about health and safety and infection control why are are some people allowed to wear head scarves and long sleeved clothing in breach of many trust guidelines.

    Or is this another example in the UK of being discriminated against for being part of the Chrtistian community?

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  • i really don't think it would be a great hardship for this nurse to remove her cross whilst on duty....rules are set for mostly safety reasons. she could have it in a small jewelery pouch pinned inside her uniform if she feels that strongly about having it on her person. what a waste of time and money having it go that far.....

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  • I am a Christian nurse and I do agreee with the comments above. I do have concerns about suppression of the rights of Christians to express their faith in public in appropriate ways. However, I am worried that this case may be focussing in the wrong direction and I would like to expand on a couple of issues.
    Firstly, are all clinical staff in this Trust banned from wearing jewellery which may present a hazard to their patients or necklaces, bracelets, rings with stones etc? Many hospitals are tightening up on their uniform policy due to the raised profile of infection control risks and health and safety. If this is the situation and it applies to all clinical staff, it seems to me, as a children's nurse, a perfectly reasonable requirement. As the previous correspondent said, it is the necklace that is being banned not the cross. If however any exceptions are made to this rule for people of other religions or other groups of clinical staff then the banning of this symbolic necklace could be discriminatory.
    Secondly. a Christian's faith does not rely on the wearing or worship of external symbols but is an inward faith in an invisible God. Christians are expected to tell others about their faith but this can be done in many ways. Wearing external symbols such as the cross or fish sign is often used and may be felt to be less intrusive than other verbal approaches. It is not however mandatory and I do believe the wellbeing of patients should come before the outward expression of an inward faith. Jesus made it clear that healing people took priority over strict Jewish rules forbidding that kind of 'work' on the sabbath.

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  • this lady has worn this cross for 30 good years please dont mess her faith up. Faith is some thing very many people can not explain because they do not have faith. if people can be allowed to wear long chains for ID bands and wearlong scarfs and long dresses reaching the ground for religious sake what is the big deal about this ladies cross. where i work all the gideon,bibiles.have been removed as some one says they bring MRSA and yet we have so many books that have been in the hospital for years christianity has sufferd so much some were fed to lions some were cut up in pieces. must we still continue this? i think we ought to be carefull when dealing with peoples religious beliefs otherwise we will be facing reigious roits in this country and i tell you its not the best for peace and tranquility. by the way she has worked for 30 yrs that means she is almost retiring. Is it the pension problem or is it personal hatred? please leave her alone!!!

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  • Firstly this ladies faith is important to the her,but surely the issue should not be the cross its the chain.
    I am sure as in many hospitals now the uniform policy is not adhered to. Infection control and health and safety are issues here. I do however feel that she has been singled out.

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