UK Department of Health has allowed female Muslim doctors to wear disposable sleeves to protect their modesty.
According to NHS rules, all staff involved in caring for patients should be 'bare below the elbows' to prevent the spread of hospital superbugs. However, female Muslim staff had been concerned about the rule as exposure of their forearms is seen as immodest, and some have even refused to expose their arms for hand washing and 'scrubbing in' procedures before surgery.
But new guidance allows staff to wear disposable sleeves, which are elasticised at the wrist and elbow when in contact with patients, The Telegraph reports.
The guidance also says that using alcohol gel to cleanse hands between treating patients does not contravene strict Muslim rules on alcohol.
The guidance was drawn up following meetings between the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS group and Islamic scholars, chaplains, multi-faith representatives and infection control experts.
"Use of hand disinfection-gels containing synthetic alcohol does not fall within the Muslim prohibition against natural alcohol (from fermented fruit or grain)," the guidelines state.
The guidance added that Muslim staff could wear uniforms with full-length sleeves when not directly engaged in patient care and that they might not be loose or dangling.
The sleeves should be able to be pulled back and secured for hand washing and direct patient care.
The Sikh bangle should also be pushed up the arm and secured for hand washing, the guidance said.
The guidance also said that staff should not wear wristwatches, white coats, neckties other than bow ties, jewellery other than a smooth wedding band and plain stud earrings, or display facial piercing or tattoos.