A Muslim radiographer claims she was forced out of her job because she refused to bare her arms as required by NHS hygiene policy.

She was told by bosses at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading that all staff must roll up their sleeves to the elbow.

But the unnamed woman instead chose to quit, claiming she was forced out by discrimination over her religious beliefs, including the Islamic teaching that women should cover their bodies in public.

The NHS's "bare below the elbows" dress code was introduced in January in a bid to combat superbugs like Clostridium difficile and MRSA.

The woman, supplied to the hospital on June 16 by an agency, told the Daily Telegraph she wants to "prevent the policy from being universally applied, so other Muslim women do not experience the same trauma".

Clare Edmondson, director of human resources at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Infection control is a major issue for hospitals across the NHS. We have an excellent track record in this area and to maintain this we have introduced a bare below the elbows' policy for all staff or agency employees working within clinical areas.

"This policy was explained to her when she first started work at the Trust. We are therefore surprised that she has knowingly worked within the policy for seven weeks and only now has this been raised as an issue.

"When she voiced her objection, she accepted the opportunity to meet with the Trust Chaplain and we also offered her the opportunity to meet with an Imam to discuss her concerns, but this was declined.

"The Trust Chaplain and Imam both stand behind our bare below the elbows policy' and support the Trust in this instance. They do not cite any diversity issue and agree that the policy is an acceptable professional requirement for everyone who works for the Trust in clinical areas.

"Patient care and patient safety is our prime concern."

By Simon Evans