Anglican Samizdat

May 23, 2009

An infectious cross

Apparently, wearing a crucifix has become an infection hazard:

A Christian hospital worker fears for her job after refusing to take off a crucifix which ‘could harbour infection’, it emerged today.

Helen Slatter, 43, says she will not choose between her faith and her job after the NHS claimed the jewellery could spread disease or even be used as a weapon.

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital explained today that health and safety rules applied to everyone and the regulations had nothing to do with religion.

The blood collector – or phlebologist – said she was called to a disciplinary meeting yesterday and warned she would be sent home if she failed to comply.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire NHS Trust said today: ‘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.’

Medicine is supposed to be based on science; where is the science that demonstrates cases of a crucifix infecting anyone or being used as a weapon? Where are the studies? Could the NHS be exhibiting religious bigotry?

The cross is infectious in a positive way; is this what really worries the NHS?



  1. Well – sorry to have to say – as a British trained nurse (and midwife, and once a registered nurse here) – there is more than a modicum of ‘correctness’ about their ‘rule’. Unlike a plain cross (and we weren’t allowed to wear those as they were deemed a hazard to oneself around electricity) a crucifix has all kinds of little nooks & crannies where bacteria may lurk. And skin is constantly sloughing off cells which attract bacteria. As for the other fear – well, it’s not so much the crucifix around ones neck as the cross on ones forehead that frightens them. And perhaps that’s what it really is about – not what we wear but how we behave.

    Comment by Margo — May 23, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

  2. Well said, Margo! After all, it is our behaviour at work – our compassion, kindness, professionalism, and skill that will reflect our faith – not a bauble!

    And as Margo describes, health care workers are trained not to wear most jewelry at work to minimize infection risks, as well as for the safety of patients and workers themselves – necklaces and lanyards can be yanked by an agitated person and rings (especially engagement rings – a diamond ring that is set above the surface of the ring) can scratch or tear a person’s skin and rip holes in latex gloves. That doesn’t mean that employers are prejudiced against married persons!

    Examples of illness that are commonly spread from patients to staff and back to patients are MRSA, c. difficile, and novovirus -all particularly nasty things to experience and to treat. (Google “nosocomial infections” for more info.)

    Comment by Natacha — May 24, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  3. Margo and Natasha,

    Thanks for enlightening me on the medical and other details.

    Comment by David — May 24, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  4. So, once again this blog manages to embarrass itself by confusing practicality for some ham-fisted liberal conspiracy. Have you no shame, or are you simply too stupid to do research?

    Comment by Joe Blow — May 26, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

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