Thursday, December 06, 2007


Overworked nurses have been ordered to stop their work five times a day - and move Muslim patients' beds to face towards Mecca. The procedure is creating turmoil among staff on NHS wards already struggling through a lack of beds. But Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust says the rule must be implemented whenever possible to ensure Muslim patients have "a more comfortable stay in hospital".

A taxpayer-funded training programme for hundreds of hospital staff has already begun to ensure they are familiar with the workings of the Muslim faith. The scheme is initially being run at Dewsbury and District Hospital, West Yorks, but is set to be expanded to other areas. It comes after the introduction in some NHS hospitals last year of Burkha-style gowns for Muslim patients.

Last night the move was slammed with critics saying the NHS would be much better off spending cash on tackling MRSA. One nurse at Dewsbury said: "It would be easier to create Muslim-only wards with every bed facing Mecca. Some people might think it is not that big a deal but we have a huge Muslim population in Dewsbury. "If we are having to turn dozens of beds to face Mecca five times a day, plus provide running water for them to wash before and after prayers, it is bound to impact on the essential medical service we are supposed to be providing."

The changes have been introduced by Dewsbury and District Hospital's chief matron Catherine Briggs. She said: "Some of our former Muslim patients suggested that a more informed understanding of the Islamic cultures would help staff to further improve their service. 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. "After this training our staff will have a greater understanding of different cultures and will be in a better position to do this." The Mecca proposal will be widened to hospitals in Pontefract and Wakefield in the New Year.

Outraged Tory Monmouth MP David Davies said: "Hospitals should be concentrating on stopping the spread of hospital infections which are claiming the lives of hundreds of patients every year than kowtowing to the politically correct brigade." And Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, West Yorks, and anti-political correctness campaigner and added: "I'm sure nurses and medical staff have got far better things to do with their time than constantly move beds around so patients are facing the right way. "This seems a totally unnecessary burden to their workload."

A spokeswoman for the Mid Yorkshire Trust added: "This is all part of our holistic approach to treating patients of all faiths. "Where it is safe and practical to do so we will move the beds of seriously ill patients so that they face towards Mecca five times a day should a patient request it. "But we also are keen to accommodate all faiths, for example if a patient is Roman Catholic then we would try and ensure they can receive Holy Communion.


Birth date can affect personality

This is an old controversy but there does appear to be something in it

ASTROLOGY may usually be dismissed as harmless superstition, but scientists are discovering that the date we are born can affect our later lives. Research has revealed the time of year a person is born can influence his or her personality, health and even whether they are male or female. But rather than being written in the stars, studies are showing that it is the season of birth that predisposes individuals to different traits.

In the northern hemisphere, women born in May will display more impulsive behaviour while those whose birthday falls in November will be more reflective. Men born in the spring will show greater persistence than those born in winter. Other research has shown that people born in the autumn will tend to be physically active and excel in football while those born in the spring will be more cerebral and may be better suited to chess. Those born between September and December are more prone to panic attacks while there is growing evidence that schizophrenia is higher among those born in the late winter and early spring.

"It is exactly what you would expect if it were temperature related," said Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, who has examined the link between luck and the season of birth. "Many of the effects reverse in the two hemispheres." Professor John Eagle, a psychiatrist at Aberdeen University who has studied the relationships between season of birth and mental health, added: "The two main culprits are diet and the seasonal fluctuations in nutrition, and the increase in infections during the winter."

Astrologers have seized on the findings as evidence that the stars influence personality. But scientists insist there are biological reasons behind the effects.


British discrimination case thrown out

A Pakistan-born engineer who claimed he was racially discriminated against by a company because of his name has lost his case. Qamar Mohammed Malik told an employment tribunal that construction company Amec Group Ltd's Treforest branch ignored a CV sent under his own name. But when the 49-year-old, of Cardiff, sent a fake CV using a Welsh name he was granted an interview, he said.

Amec, which had denied the claim, welcomed the tribunal's decision. Mr Malik said he was "disappointed" with the ruling, which was announced on Monday. He added: "I have to accept the ruling and move on but I hope some lessons have been learned. "I was not looking for compensation. I just wanted to make a point and stop discrimination happening. "I have four children and I don't want them to experience it when they get older and start looking for a career."

He told the Cardiff hearing last month that he first applied for a job in November 2006, e-mailing his CV to Amec's office manager in Treforest, near Pontypridd. When he was told there were no vacancies, Mr Malik composed a similar CV with inferior qualifications, using the name Rhyddir Aled Lloyd-Hilbert. The fictional man had fewer O-levels than Mr Malik and was slightly older. Mr Malik claimed Amec responded "positively" to the fictional CV of Mr Lloyd-Hilbert, who was told he could earn up to 33,000 pounds with the firm.

Speaking during the tribunal, he said he decided to send a fictitious CV using a Welsh-sounding name because the rejection by Amec had been at "severe odds" with advice he was previously given by the company. He added: "It smacked of the racism that I used to experience in the early 1980s."

But Mike Hartwell, catchment manager for the construction arm of Amec at the time, told the tribunal the fictitious CV had also been rejected for the site engineer role Mr Malik originally applied for. He said Mr Lloyd-Hilbert was contacted regarding a quality inspector role because he indicated he was planning to move to Wales, whereas Mr Malik had a Reading address on his CV.

The tribunal panel ruled unanimously that his "claim of race discrimination is not well founded and is dismissed." An Amec spokesman said: "We welcome the unanimous decision made by the Cardiff employment tribunal, which fully recognises that we did not racially discriminate against Mr Malik. "We are a major international company, employing many thousands of people around the world, and select people solely on their suitability for the particular job. "Our code of business conduct, which all of our people are required to follow, makes it clear that discrimination on racial or other prohibited grounds is not tolerated under any circumstances."


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