Christian nurse under fire over wearing cross to meet hospital officials

Telegraph
20.09.2009
By Caroline Gammell

Shirley Chaplin has been taken off the wards at The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital after refusing to remove her necklace.

As first disclosed in The Sunday Telegraph, the 54-year-old grandmother has been told she cannot wear the one inch silver symbol openly because it breaches uniform policy and could prove a risk to patients.

She has been warned she could be suspended if she does not co-operate or accept accept an administrative role at the hospital, prompting fears that she could be dismissed after nearly 30 years.

The trust insisted its policy was not about the symbol of the crucifix, but motivated by health and safety concerns about patients grabbing necklaces.

But Mrs Chaplin, who is eight months from retirement, is taking them to an employment tribunal claiming she has been targeted because of her faith.

“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 – and to my knowledge, no patient has ever complained about me wearing it.

“I feel that I’m being bullied and victimised because of my faith.”

Mrs Chaplin, 54, from Exeter, has sought help from the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) which is supporting her legal battle.

She is being represented by Paul Diamond, the human rights barrister who advised Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient but was later reinstated.

Mrs Chaplin claimed other members of staff have been allowed to wear necklaces and the Trust admitted not everyone had complied with the code.

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