Muslim medical workers in three major English cities are balking at hospital hygiene rules such as rolling up their sleeves when they scrub for surgery, according to The Daily Mail.
Health officials have been ready to wash their hands of the dispute, but at least one hospital is bending to the requests.
Female med students and staff at hospitals in at least a trio of large British cities — Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield — have continued to flat-out refuse to comply with regulations aimed at fending off germs and infections, the Mail reported, with some saying they'd rather quit than expose their arms.
The workers object on the grounds that showing their forearms is immodest for women who practice Islam and against their religion. Hygiene gurus insist that no exceptions should be made for religious or other reasons.
But Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool said that though there are certain non-negotiable rules, it is attempting to work with Muslim students to find a solution.
"We specify bare below elbows, no wrist watches, nail varnish or false nails in clinical areas," Steve Ryan, Alder Hey's medical director, told the Mail. "Good hand hygiene is one of the most important and simplest actions we can take to prevent health care-associated infections."
At the Liverpool children's hospital, medical students gave a thumbs-down to pushing up or removing long sleeves while assisting in treating patients and washing their hands.
They asked for some concessions, and the hospital is complying.
"A number of female Muslim students had approached the University of Liverpool to ask if we would provide facilities for them to change their outerwear and hijab for ... scrubs," Ryan said. "We were pleased to accommodate this request, and these facilities have now been incorporated."
The dispute has been ongoing, with the U.K. Daily Telegraph reporting earlier this month that Britain's Department of Health regulations — devised to prevent the spread of various superbugs — were being violated with more frequency.
The Islamic Medical Association has gotten involved, telling Muslim women in the field that they must stay covered.