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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Unable her cross to bear

God moves in mysterious ways. He always seems to have it in for those who wear the symbol of his only begotten son’s execution.

The latest is in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where a member of the blood-collecting department, Helen Slatter, was warned she’d be sent home if she didn’t remove a Christian cross on a chain.

The hospital says it’s nothing to do with religion. It’s about heath and safety. The gewgaw could harbour germs, and it could be grabbed by a desperate patient, thus causing harm to the member of staff.

Forty-three-year-old Slatter had to be called to a disciplinary hearing on Friday, according to the BBC. It doesn’t say whether she flatly refused to remove the item, but that’s what it looks like.

A hospital spokesman is quoted as saying, “The issue is not one of religion: the [healthcare] trust employs a uniform policy which must be adhered to at all times. This policy applies to all staff employed by the trust and who wear a uniform on duty.

“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 the member of staff.

“As an employer, the trust has a responsibility to ensure that all staff are provided with a safe environment to be able to go about their duty.

“Jewellery is restricted to one pair of plain or unobtrusive studs in the earlobes only and no other facial piercings are permitted, including tongue studs. One plain ring or band is permitted on the ring finger.”

How the ring is exempt from the possibility of harbouring nasties is anyone’s guess, but maybe it’s because it gets a good wash whenever the hands are washed, and isn’t exposed when surgical gloves are worn.

You can bet your bottom, though, that the religionists will be bleating about religious freedoms.

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