Lower Hygiene Standards for UK Muslim Nurses?

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago regarding the “Muslims Exempt from the Bedroom Tax” rumour that had been circulating the Internet, which turned out to be a complete hoax. The most recent story to do with Muslims and Islam is not as quite as straightforward, but there is some obvious twisting of the facts here.

The article, which claims, “The National Health Service has amended its hygiene rules to allow Muslim staff not to wash before attending to patients,” was originally posted on the BNP website in 2010, but has since been removed. The article, however, has more recently been posted on other websites and seems to be doing the rounds on social networking sites.

Of course, members of the far-right/haters of the left are frothing at the mouth over this apparent story, and even a self-proclaimed “anarcho-syndicalist” page has expressed some dissatisfaction (http://www.facebook.com/anarchistsyndicalist/posts/543481295696282?comment_id=5682080&offset=0&total_comments=333&notif_t=share_reply).

But what really has happened here?

Channel 4’s blog attempts to get to the bottom of the article, stating:

“The BNP is factually correct in highlighting the guidance’s proposed alternative of disposable sleeves for NHS staff on religious grounds, which is mentioned in the policy document.

The party is also right when it points out that staff can now opt for long sleeves. But the guidance states that this only applies when they are “not engaged in patient care”. The BNP fails to make this clear – that long sleeves are allowed when not directly dealing with patients – in its article.

However, the party’s top-line claim that hygiene measures have been relaxed to “allow Muslim staff not to wash before attending to patients” is incorrect. While guidance seeks to accommodate cultural differences, it makes it clear that “strict procedures for washing hands and wrists must still be observed”.”

A blatant blurring of the facts by the far-right, then? It would seem so.

The official NHS guidelines of uniform and workwear policies (which many of these scaremongers have ignored) actually take religious beliefs into consideration:

“Where, for religious reasons, members of staff wish to cover their forearms or wear a bracelet when not engaged in patient care, ensure that sleeves or bracelets can be pushed up the arm and secured in place for hand washing and direct patient care activity.”

I’ve also been informed by two devote Muslims that washing is a very strict practice in Islam, with Islamic teachings stating that Muslims must wash themselves at least five times at day, with hand hygiene being paramount.

Here are also a couple of responses to the article from Muslims on the “anarcho-syndicalist” thread:

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Medicine student Helen Beaumount also presents a solid argument:

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So, while there may be a small degree of truth to the original article, it would seem a lot of the facts have been greatly twisted and/or ignored, with many people manufacturing this, “One rule for us, another for them” philosophy in a bid to target Muslims and Islam.

Question what you read, people. Any moron can click the “share” or “retweet” button.

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5 thoughts on “Lower Hygiene Standards for UK Muslim Nurses?

  1. This is quite an old story but I saw it posted on Richard Dawkins’s Facebook fan page. The green niqab nurse uniform pictured was just a hypothetical picture of what an “Islamic” nurse’s uniform might look like; the majority of British female Muslim nurses wear a normal nurse’s uniform with a headscarf. The objection wasn’t to washing but to the policy of requiring staff not to cover their forearms at any time while on duty.

    This is problematic because Muslim women are required to cover their forearms (in fact, everything except their face and hands) when in front of men outside their close family. There is in fact a story that one of the female Companions (the Muslims who knew the Prophet) would roll up her sleeves while treating wounded soldiers on the battlefield, but she absolutely would not have done this when just out in the street. When directly treating patients, being bare below the elbows might be justified; when simply walking in the corridors, it certainly isn’t.

  2. You would think that cleanliness would be next to Godliness and you would be promoting cleanliness in our hospitals along with safety for the patients, but no instead attacking us for our beliefs and covering for the muslims again,
    “So, while there may be a small degree of truth to the original article, it would seem a lot of the facts have been greatly twisted and/or ignored, with many people manufacturing this, “One rule for us, another for them” philosophy in a bid to target Muslims and Islam.”
    Bullshit. Covering up and sucking up to the muslims are we??.

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