Muslim Nurses Do Not Want to Wash Their Hands

Muslims who come to Europe bring a completely different culture with them. But, when health and safety regulations come into place Muslims views are not a priority. It is because safety of patients at a hospital is certainly more important than anyone’s convictions as it was already expressed in Eweida and others v United Kingdom (2013).

In this case one of the applicants was a Christian nurse who worked at a hospital. She always wore a cross which was not allowed by management of the hospital which followed a guidance of the Department of Health. It prohibited staff of hospitals to wear any jewellery because of bacteria as nurses and doctors often take care of open wounds. Because she refused to take the cross off she was moved to a different post which after some time seized to exist.

Despite her rights to manifest her beliefs under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights the Employment Tribunal (ET) and later the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR) held that protection of health and safety is more important that medical staff’s freedom of religion.
Additionally, the ECtHR trusted that the hospital’s managers are better qualified to decide about measures of clinical safety than courts. So, the court decided that the state’s margin of appreciation to make independent decisions about conflicting rights was not exceeded.
The same approach of hospitals’ management should follow in situations where Muslim nurses refuse to wash their hands. It is a recent issue which occurs because Muslim women are not allowed to roll their sleeves up to their elbows. It is because it is against standards of “modesty”.

However, surgical nurses, as everyone who is about to enter the operating room, are required to scrub their hands for at least five minutes. Therefore, they are allowed to wear disposable plastic over-sleeves. A spokesperson from the UK’s Department of Health explained that “The guidance is intended to balance infection control measures with cultural beliefs.”