In Great Britain, the National Health Services issued rules in 2007 designed to halt the spread of superbugs, like MRSA, that compromise patient safety. The rules, required, among other things, that staff members keep their arms bare below the elbow. Now the NHS has recently modified the rules to permit Muslim women, concerned about their modesty, to wear long sleeves or disposable sleeves. Other modifications allow Sikhs to wear religious bracelets and bangles so long as they are pushed up above the elbow.
How are these rules helping patients? Isn't that the role of the NHS to ensure standards of care the protect patients?
I am all for religious tolerance in dress and other matters, but seriously, when it comes to public health and patient safety, the 2007 rules made sense. Scrubbing bare skin between seeing patients is a health matter and I refuse to believe that it is more important for Muslim women to remain fully clothed than it is for the sick to receive the best, safest, most effective care possible.