Muslim female staff members in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will now “be allowed to cover their arms to preserve their modesty,” although doing so raises fears of spreading bacteria and “[compromising] patient safety.”
The Mail on Sunday reported that the change was made following objections from female Muslims who do not believe they should be forced to “expose their arm below the elbow” as NHS guidelines required.
The Telegraph reports the rule requiring bare arms below the elbow was put in place in 2007 to “reduce the number of patients who were falling ill, and even dying, from superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.”
In light of the changes, Muslim female staff members will now be allowed to use “disposable plastic over-sleeves which cover their clothes below the elbow.”
Derek Butler is chairman of MRSA Action UK, and he fears that these over-sleeves may lead by to the same problems NHS faced in 2007: “My worry is that [in] allowing some medics to use disposable sleeves you compromise patient safety because unless you change the sleeves between each patient, you spread bacteria.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins