United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) is one of the biggest acute hospital trusts in England, serving a population of over 720,000 people.
What was the problem?
As an A&E foundation year two doctor, there were frequent questions by staff members regarding the cleanliness of wearing a hijab or headscarf at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in an environment where medics are encouraged to wear scrubs and there is no hijab alternative.
What was the solution?
The issue was raised with the A&E clinical lead, with a suggestion for the trust to provide disposable surgical headscarves. A supplier of surgical headscarves to another NHS provider was recommended. The idea was positively supported, followed by an introduction to the COVID-19 team, who made an introduction to the trust’s procurement team. The team was happy to procure the hijabs which are now available across all sites operated by the trust.
What were the challenges?
The main challenge was obtaining the hijabs from suppliers. Currently, there is only a single supplier in the country which produces disposable hijabs. Due to the increase in demand for PPE, there was a shortage of fabrics as they are the same used in other outerwear.
Along with colleagues from other provider organisations and with support from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) dress code team, a guidance on safe wearing of head coverings/hijab during COVID-19 was produced. The guidance was also adopted by NHS Employers which provided reassurances on safety, whilst observing a key aspect of faith, as head coverings/hijabs are not normally advised in A&E.
“We listen to our staff when they ask for changes in practice or additional equipment that would help, and in this case were only too happy to explore the purchase of disposable surgical hijabs.”