I was lucky to escape childhood alive. I realize that now, as they rapture all the merry-go-rounds from the local parks around here, playground rides I somehow survived in the late 1950s an '60s. You can never be too careful these days.
In the same spirit of safety first, the redoubtable National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has intervened to save the patients of 54-year-old Shirley Chaplin from her, by decreeing that the career nurse remove the necklace with a silver Cross that she has perilously worn around her neck in the line of duty since she was a nursing student.
The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Trust Hospital arrived at this decision in spite of the fact that there has never been a recorded incident of patient or staff injury from the wearing of such an article of jewelry. Chapin, a devout Christian, says that no patient has ever complained either.
"Everyone I have ever worked with has clearly known I am a Christian; it is what motivates me to care for others," she said. "For about 30 years I have worked in the NHS and nursed patients day and night and on no occasion has my Cross caused me or anyone else any injury."
Meanwhile, the wearing of the hijab, sari, kippah, and mangal sutra continue to be seen in the nursing units "as part of a welcome diversity." The Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's policy is that "A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf would be seen as a requirement of faith and does not cause a health and safety risk for her patients. This nurse's faith does not require the wearing of a necklace or a crucifix, so our position is that this is not an issue of faith but an issue of health and safety in the work place."
Not a troublemaker, Chapin asked permission to at least wear the Cross pinned to her lapel (where Security ID badges are allowed), but she was told that the only acceptable place for the Cross was pinned inside her pocket. In the case of the ID badges, security benefit is deemed greater than risk.
Chapin has been reassigned, under duress, to a non-nursing position within the organization, but is filing a claim of discrimination. The barrister appointed for her defense by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) is Paul Diamond, who also advised Caroline Petrie, the community nurse reprimanded a few months ago by the North Somerset Primary Healthcare Trust for offering to pray for a patient during a home visit.
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