Barts Health NHS Trust


Barts Health NHS Trust operates four major hospital sites: The Royal London; St Bartholomew’s; Whipps Cross; Newham. This is in addition to a number of community locations, including Mile End hospital.

The trust provides healthcare to 2.5 million people living in east London.

What was the aim/problem?

Safeguarding frontline workers from the transmission of COVID-19 in clinical settings is a priority. In particular, emerging evidence has shown a significant impact on staff from BAME backgrounds.

Providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep all staff safe including BAME colleagues is a priority.

What was the solution?

Recognising one size does not fit all, the trust engaged with clinicians of BAME backgrounds to develop a trust-wide policy for aerosol generating procedures (AGP).

Paediatric dental specialist Dr Hina Syed and paediatric dental consultants Dr Ravinder Kaur and Dr Rosemary Whatling were the main authors who provided an insight into the needs of colleagues who wear religious head coverings, and of those colleagues who have beards for religious and cultural reasons.

What were the challenges?

Decisions and operations take place at high speed during times of crisis, such as during the COVID-19 response.

The main challenge faced was explaining to non-BAME staff in senior administrative, managerial and clinical positions some cultural differences and their meaning, in a manner that was easily understood.

What was the result?

The paediatric dentistry department has adopted a SOP recognising one size does not fit all in PPE solutions.

A number of solutions to the problems faced by specific ethnic minority groups face were offered in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Disposable hijabs for Muslim women requiring head coverings.
  • Reusable face masks for women with thin faces who have failed fit tests for all disposable masks.
  • Powered hoods for people who fail the half-mask fit tests, along with men who wish to keep their beards for religious reasons.

Want to know more?

Barts Health NHS Trust:

British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA):

NHS Employers which provides reassurances on safety, while observing a key aspect of faith, as head coverings/hijabs.

Health and Safety Executive respiratory protective equipment at work – a practical guide