A ban on bedside Bibles considered by an hospital trust that feared the Christian holy books could spread germs has been rejected.
Bibles in bedside areas could pose a risk of cross-infection if not cleaned properly, according to research studied by Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.
But the trust decided against banning the book in bedside lockers, opting instead to keep copies in holders and protective plastic covers that can be easily cleaned after each patient has used them.
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But on wards for patients with virulent infections, single use Bibles will be introduced.
The books will be disposed of and replaced with new ones after use by each patient in two wards and some side rooms.
Jenny Leggott, the trust’s director of nursing, said: “We have been speaking to our patients, staff and members of the public over the last few months to get their views on where Bibles should be kept on our wards.
“We always strive to find ways of improving safety and cleanliness at our hospitals.
“We therefore took the opportunity to review how our bedside areas are cleaned. This raised the question as to whether Bibles should continue to be kept in bedside lockers or available elsewhere on the ward.
“We have taken time over the last few weeks to ensure we understand everyone’s views on this important subject, demonstrating our respect of all needs and faiths.”
Most people would prefer Bibles to remain in bedside areas as they provide “an important and familiar source of comfort for patients during their stay in hospital”, she added.
But the hydrogen peroxide used to clean rooms where patients with infections such as Clostridium difficile are cared for is not effective on paper.
Ms Leggott said: “We will ensure that an additional supply of Bibles is available in these areas to they can be replenished as necessary.”
The decision to allow Bibles to remain in bedside lockers was welcomed by local churches.
Rev Karen Rooms of St Ann With Emmanuel Church in Nottingham suggested that spirituality was an important aspect of healing.
She said: “When people are ill the things that give them meaning and purpose and the spiritual aspect of people’s lives sometimes comes sharply into focus.
“Making that resource available to those who want it is to be welcomed.”