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Trust worker resigns over crucifix hygiene ruling

24 June 2009

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A phlebologist at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital has left her job after being ordered to remove a crucifix as it “could harbour infection”.

Helen Slatter, 43, was told the necklace she was wearing posed a health and safety risk and could even be used as a weapon.

Ms Slatter was not willing to accept the hospital’s offer to wear the emblem in her pocket and instead felt she had to choose her religion over her job and resign.

However, the trust insisted the issue was not a matter of faith and instead a matter of safety.

She said: “They made it clear that if I went back the hospital would send me home if I was wearing my crucifix.

“I am not willing to stop wearing it, so I have been left with no choice but to leave my job. I’m not sure if I’d want to work somewhere where I had been treated like this anyway.”

Since her resignation, the trust has invited Ms Slatter to meet again to discuss her concerns over the uniform policy, which prohibits the wearing of necklaces and chains.

The trust said: “We would like to make it clear that Helen had not been the subject of disciplinary action and we are supportive of our employees’ religious beliefs.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

What’s your view? Were the trust right to uphold policy? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Primary care phlebotomists, to the best of my knowledge, wear some jewellery if they so choose, so once again no hard and fast rules” – Liz Saunders, South Wales

“I am a phlebotomist working for the NHS in Bristol, and we have the same rules. I think the world has gone mad. If you could see how some of the doctors dress you would think they were going out on the town, no uniform and they wear their rings, watches and necklaces, so why can’t we? We get blamed for all the infections that go round the hospitals. I think they should start looking a bit higher up the pay scale, and give all  the real workers a break” – Jane, Bristol

“Totally correct. The NHS policy on the wearing of necklaces and chains must have been know to this lady. Another religious person trying to claim victimhood in the workplace. To throw your job away over a piece of metal hanging round your neck has to be amongst the most stupid things I have heard in a while” – Pat, Bedford

“I would say that nurses wearing their uniforms to and from work hold a greater chance of causing infections than a small crucifix or necklace. Total foolishness, but to be expected these days” – J Henderson, Dundee