NHS hospital in Derby becomes the UK's first to use disposable hijabs

NHS hospital in Derby ‘becomes the UK’s first’ to use disposable hijabs for Muslim doctors in surgery to reduce the risk of infection from headscarves

  • Farah Roslan is training at Royal Derby Hospital and designed the hijab
  • She had been ‘respectfully’ removed from the operating theatre in the past
  • Surgical staff are supposed to wear sterile, disposable clothing for cleanliness
  • Ms Roslan said she ‘used the same headscarf all day which wasn’t ideal’

An NHS hospital in Derby has become the first in the UK to use disposable hijabs for Muslim doctors in its surgical department.

Inspired by Muslim junior doctor Farah Roslan, the trust which runs the hospital has now made the sterile hijabs routinely available.

It means Ms Roslan, who was once afraid that her traditional cloth hijab may harbour infectious germs, can now work in the operating theatre.

She claims in the past she had been ‘respectfully’ removed from operating theatres because of concerns about hygiene.  

A consultant working in the Midlands hospitals said she hoped it would catch on and have an ‘enormous’ effect in the NHS.

Farah Roslan, pictured with her colleague and mentor Gill Tierney, designed the disposable headscarf after finding she had to be taken out of the operating theatre because her cloth hijab was an infection risk

Ms Roslan told BBC Radio Derby: ‘I’d been using the same headscarf all day which obviously wasn’t clean and ideal.

‘I didn’t feel comfortable taking it off and I was pulled out of the theatre, respectfully, due to infection control.

‘A middle ground had to be found between dress code due to faith and the passion of being in the operating theatre.’

The hijab is a scarf worn by Muslim women to cover the hair, neck and ears but leave the face exposed. 

It is a garment traditionally meant to represent modesty and privacy and is worn as a religious symbol.

By comparison, a niqab also covers the nose, mouth and cheeks, leaving only the eyes exposed, and a burka covers the entire body with a mesh over the eyes.

In surgical departments staff must wear sterile, disposable clothing such as scrubs, gloves and masks, to reduce the risk of a patient contracting an infection. 

Ms Roslan had been working on wards at the Royal Derby Hospital when she got worried that her head covering was making her an infection risk.

Originally from Malaysia, the trainee doctor looked into how she could develop a disposable sterile headscarf.

She created something that kept the balance between showing respect to her faith and being sterile at work.

Ms Roslan said: ‘I am so happy my vision has become a reality and that these headscarves are now available for all of the staff.’

She added in a tweet: ‘I hope that by providing the disposable headscarf, we will remove one of the major barriers in attracting a wider and more diverse talent pool in surgery.’

Consultant surgeon Gill Tierney, who mentored Ms Roslan, said the trust was the first to introduce the headscarves in the UK.

She said: ‘We know it’s a quiet, silent, issue around theatres around the country and I don’t think it has been formally addressed.

‘It hasn’t cost much and hopefully the effect will be enormous.’ 

The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust said the new headscarves have been available since early December.

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