Nurses Told to Turn Muslims' Beds to Mecca
By THE DAILY EXPRESS
Added: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Linda Ward Selbie for the link.
OVERWORKED nurses have been ordered to stop all medical work five times every day to move Muslim patients' beds so they face towards Mecca.
The lengthy procedure, which also includes providing fresh bathing water, is creating turmoil among overstretched staff on bustling NHS wards.
But despite the havoc, Mid- Yorkshire NHS Trust says the rule must be instigated whenever possible to ensure Muslim patients have "a more comfortable stay in hospital".
And a taxpayer-funded training programme for several hundred hospital staff has begun to ensure that all are familiar with the workings of the Muslim faith.
The scheme is initially being run at Dewsbury and District Hospital, West Yorkshire, but is set to be introduced at other hospitals in the new year.
It comes on the back of the introduction in some NHS hospitals last year of Burka-style gowns for Muslim patients who did not wish medical staff to see their face while operating or caring for them.
Last night critics slammed the procedure and claimed the NHS would be better off investing its resources in tackling killer superbugs such as C.diff and MRSA.
One experienced nurse working at Dewsbury said: "It would be easier to create Muslim-only wards with every bed facing Mecca than have to deal with this.
"Some people might think it is not that big a deal, but we have a huge Muslim population in Dewsbury and if we are having to turn dozens of beds to face Mecca five times a day, plus provide running water for them to wash before and after prayers, it is bound to impact on the essential medical service we are supposed to be providing.
"Although the beds are designed to be moved, the bays are not really suitable for having loads of beds moved around to face a different direction, and despite our best efforts it does cause disruption for non-Muslim patients."
The changes have been instigated by Dewsbury and District Hospital's chief matron, Catherine Briggs, after she held a series of consultation meetings with local Asian GPs, ethnic minority patients groups and Muslim chaplain Ilyas Dalal to find out what staff could do to further improve Muslim patients' experience of the NHS.
In accordance with the rules of Islam, Muslims are required to pray five times a day. The religion dictates they must wash themselves in running water prior to prayer and must be facing in the direction of Mecca while praying. Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is revered as the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed, who was born around 570AD.
Turning beds so they face towards Mecca was a key proposal put forward during the hospital meetings, along with suggestions that Muslim women should only be seen by female doctors.
Although the Trust, which also oversees hospitals in Wakefield and Pontefract, could not guarantee women-only doctors, they agreed that "wherever possible" specific patient requests would be carried out.
Mrs Briggs said: "Some of our former Muslim patients suggested that a more informed understanding of the Islamic cultures would help staff to further improve their service."
Last night Conservative MP David Davies said: "Hospitals should be concentrating on stopping the spread of infections than kow-towing to the politically correct brigade.
"If the need for fresh running water is so great then perhaps family members could be on hand to assist the already overworked medical staff."
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