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Tribunal hearing - Nurse Shirley Chaplin case

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Trust statement in response to Chaplin tribunal decision

6th April 2010


Human Resources Director for the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Lynn Lane said: “The tribunal decision has confirmed the Trust has acted in an appropriate and sensitive manner in seeking to deal with the issues raised by Mrs Chaplin. At all times the Trust has given the safety of staff and patients paramount importance. We are pleased that the panel agreed with this view and confirmed the actions we have taken to attempt to resolve this issue have been fair and reasonable and recognises the strenuous efforts that have been made to find a solution. 


“Our view was and remains that staff should comply with Trust policy on dress code/uniform and that wearing a necklace runs the risk of compromising patient and staff safety. Our policy is entirely consistent with Department of Health guidelines.


“A number of unsubstantiated claims were made during the tribunal and we are satisfied that these have been shown to be completely without foundation. Sensible and sensitive solutions were offered to Mrs Chaplin. It is regrettable that her uncompromising stance and the involvement of parties external to the Trust determined to play out the case in the media, may have deflected her from agreeing one of these solutions.”


Case background information:


Mrs Shirley Chaplin worked on an infection and isolation ward caring for mainly elderly, frail and vulnerable patients. This case concerns whether her employer, the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, subjected her to discrimination on grounds of her religion or belief in allowing her to wear a crucifix but not on a necklace or in any other manner which could constitute a health and safety risk whilst doing a clinical facing role in the hospital. Regrettably following her refusal to accept a number of compromise solutions, Mrs Chaplin was redeployed to a nursing administration role.

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