Leicester hospitals were struggling to escape a public relations disaster last night after the trust's chaplain stalled a request from Gideons International to be allowed to replace patients' bedside Bibles.
His decision was interpreted on the front pages of tabloid newspapers yesterday as tantamount to banning the Bible from NHS wards.
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust disputed claims that it thought having the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/11765_phone.html ' target=_blank>Bible on the wards might offend non-Christians.
But its spokeswoman was unable to say whether the Gideon Bibles would be allowed to remain in patients' lockers, tells the Guardians Unlimited.
The hospital managers also claimed that Bibles could have some kind of role in spreading the MRSA superbug. This has been refuted by medical studies. But the managers have also refused an offer from Gideons International, the evangelical group that provides the Bibles, to make copies of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/printed.html?news_id=12526 ' target=_blank>Koran and other holy scriptures. It supplies 900,000 Bibles a year to hotels, libraries and hospitals in Britain.