British Hospital Turns Muslims’ Beds to Face Mecca

AFP, December 4, 2007

A British hospital has agreed to turn seriously ill Muslim patients’ beds to face Mecca, as part of efforts to improve services for the Islamic community, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Dewsbury and District Hospital in West Yorkshire—a region of northern England which has a large Muslim population—is also offering halal options at mealtime, said matron Catherine Briggs.

“We are committed to providing the highest possible standards of care to every one of our patients and we know that Dewsbury and District Hospital treats a high number of patients from the Muslim community,” she said.

“We always do our best to listen to our patients and are willing to adapt our nursing practices where possible to help patients uphold their cultural beliefs,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS (National Health Service) Trust, which runs the hospital, said changes were being made and training introduced to better meet the needs of Muslim patients.

The new measures, agreed on after the hospital matron asked Muslim patients about their wishes, included changing the position of the beds of “very ill” Muslim patients to face Mecca if requested by the patient.

“Some of our former Muslim patients suggested that a more informed understanding of the Islamic cultures would help staff to further improve their service.”

Britain has long grappled with how to better integrate immigrant populations, including vast communities which have been here for generations from former colonies, including Pakistan.

A nurse who was among the first to receive the new training praised the initiative.

“Although I already knew quite a lot about the Islamic faith, this gave me a greater understanding on how we can make small changes on a daily basis that will really make a difference to our Muslim patients,” said Beverley Brook.

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