scotsman.com, August 13, 2007
HOSPITAL staff in the Lothians have been told not to eat at their desks to avoid offending Muslim colleagues during Ramadan.
NHS Lothian has advised doctors and other health workers not to have working lunches during the 30-day fast, which begins next month.
The health service’s Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance.
This includes ensuring Muslim staff are given breaks to pray, and time off to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.
It is understood they also advised hospital managers to move food trolleys away from areas where Muslims work.
An NHS spokesman said he could not confirm what was in the e-mail.
Jim McCaffery, director of acute services and workforce at NHS Lothian, said: “This e-mail was circulated to a number of senior managers as we continue to promote cultural awareness in our organisation.”
But the move has angered many doctors and politicians, who say it is taking religious tolerance too far.
Bill Aitken, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, was reported as saying: “Frankly, this advice, well meaning as it may be, is total nonsense.
“This is the sort of thing that can stir up resentments rather than result in good relations.”