John Troup, The Sun (UK), Dec. 29, 2006
SOME Muslims are undermining the battle to rid Britain’s hospitals of killer infections by refusing to wash their hands when visiting sick relatives.
Dispensers containing anti-bacterial gel have been placed outside wards at hospitals all over Britain in a bid to get rid of superbugs like MRSA and PVL.
It prevents people bringing in more infections. But some Muslims refuse to use the hand cleansers on religious grounds because they contain alcohol.
Health watchdogs are so concerned they intend to meet with NHS bosses in the New Year to try and hammer out a solution.
NHS care assistant Theresa Poupa, 46, became aware of the situation while visiting a sick cousin at the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green.
She said: “I could not believe it — the signs are large enough and clear enough but they just took no notice and walked straight onto the ward.
“I was there almost every day for three weeks and I saw it repeated dozens and dozens of times. When I raised the matter with the nursing staff they just shrugged and said that Muslims were refusing to use the gel because it contained alcohol.
“They said they couldn’t force visitors to use the gel and I understand that — but I was astonished that anyone who didn’t wash their hands was allowed onto a ward.
“I know the dangers that bugs like MRSA can cause. They kill hundreds of patients a year.”
Michael Summers, chairman of the Patients’ Association, said: “I have been made aware of this situation during discussions with nurses and it is a very serious state of affairs.”
Sun doctor Dr Carol Cooper, who practises in West London and works shifts in accident and emergency, said: “I practise in an area where the patients are largely Bangladeshi and some of them do object to washing their hands because of the alcohol. But it’s fantastically important.”
Murray Devine, head of safety at health watchdog the Healthcare Commission, said: “The solution should be ensuring Muslims have access to soap and water. There’s no substitute for good old fashioned soap and water.”