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Crucifix wearer 'must choose between faith and job'

  • 6 Comments

A Christian hospital worker in Gloucestershire, who refused her trust’s request to remove a crucifix, says she fears she may now lose her job.

Helen Slatter, 43, who works as a phlebotomist at Gloucestershire NHS Trust, was told by a disciplinary meeting that her position was at risk if she continued to wear the one-inch crucifix.

The trust said the jewellery provided a surface for infection to spread and could also be used as a weapon. Ms Slatter was informed that unless she removed the crucifix she could be sent home from work.

Health and safety regulations state that employees may only wear one plain ear stud and a band-type ring. Gloucestershire Royal Hospital insisted that religion was not a factor in the decision.

‘My faith is important to me but I’m not a bible basher and don’t push it onto colleagues. Now I have to choose between my job and my faith. It is an awful situation,’ Ms Slatter, who has worked at the hospital for five years, told the Gloucestershire Echo.

A spokesman for the trust said: ‘The issue is not one of religion. The trust employs a uniform policy which must be adhered to at all times.

‘Necklaces and chains present two problems - firstly they provide a surface that can harbour and spread infections and secondly they present a health and safety issue whereby a patient could grab a necklace or chain and cause harm to a member of staff.’

  • 6 Comments

Readers' comments (6)

  • As Christians.we know that it's not wearing a symbol of faith that is important but the way we live our lives.

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  • Over the many years that l have worked in the Nursing Profession, nurses have worn jewellery of all sorts and no-one has complianed or objected.

    Whilst we as readers are not aparty to all the information, l make the following comments with some caution.

    The two reasons given by the Trust were:

    1 The infection risk. I would like to know what evidence they have from their microbiologists that the level of risk for patients is unacceptable?

    2. Safety. Not quite sure whose safety they are concerned with when they talk about it being ripped off and used as a weapon. Patients who are prone to this type of response have many other options in a hospital ward, which are likely to be far more effective and dangerous if they want to harm someone or themselves.

    Surely common sense has to prevail. A crucifix is generally warn inside of clothing were it cannot be seen. I would agree that the trust would be within its rights to ask that such jewellery should not be warn inside of clothing and if necessary secured to the skin.

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  • I am a soon to be qualified student nurse and as such have to adhere to the uniform policy set by my University and the hospitals where I am placed. This includes that the only jewellery that should be worn is a plain wedding band.

    I have chosen not to wear my wedding ring while working as I do not like the idea of it gathering bacteria etc. This is not me choosing between my job and my marriage it is simply (I feel) a good decision.

    As part of the Cleanliness Champion course I recently completed, necklaces, earrings and other jewellery are prohibited as infection risks - however, being on placement at the moment, I am hugely aware of the number of staff who insist on wearing jewellery other than a wedding band and even those with long false nails and long hair not tied back.

    I feel that we should all be treated equally, if one person is not allowed jewellery, no one should be exempt from this - this does not mean renouncing your faith, you do not have to choose. Wearing a crucifix does not make someone a good Christian, it is as someone said earlier - how we live our lives not the symbols we adorn ourselves with that make us who we are.
    thanks.

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  • How could not wearing crucifix affect this person's faith. I am certain God would be more than understaning if this person took the crucifix of whilst at work when her shift is finished she can put her crucifix on again

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  • C,mon now...lets be realistic
    Why dont we swab everything...including beds, charts, desk phones, handbags, lunchboxes, stethescopes, fingernails...and the list goes on!
    Better still why dont we just get robots to do the work, and then all we have to do is make sure they are bug free!! Bugs will always be here by so many methods.
    Maintaining strict handwashing policies and continuing education on this to everyone from staff to visitors is the most essential part of infection control/prevention.
    As for the wearing of the crucifix, I really see no problem, especially if it is under clothing.

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  • What about long nails? I can not believe that this has been so ignored for years and is one of the most horrific places for bacteria to breed and then to spread. Nails kill!
    If I saw a nurse with a Crucifix, I would be relieved. If people only they knew what it meant to be a Christian. My cousin was relieved when she was in distress right before giving birth.

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