Whilst all details on the incident, which occurred in 2013 and investigations are still ongoing, are unclear, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) is deeply concerned about some of the comments made in the blog, and the subsequent reporting on the place of Muslim attire in theatres.
Patient safety is at the heart of NHS care provision. Muslim healthcare professionals who wear the headscarf or ‘hijab’, like all others in healthcare, are adherent to infection control policies. Non-compliance with these policies is unsafe and harms patients. Many NHS trusts have championed workforce equality and inclusiveness by offering sterile theatre headgear for Muslim staff members to practise safely.
Discrimination on the basis of religious or cultural beliefs violates basic tenets of NHS care and good medical practice. There is no excuse for Islamophobic behaviour and comments by patients or colleagues, and we expect the regulatory bodies to take appropriate action should any issues come to light.
Furthermore, the statement from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals states headscarves may not be worn in operating theatres due to the possible risk of infection. On the contrary, NHS Trusts are obliged to meet the reasonable needs of employees. We urge Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to reconsider their position and make their workplace more accessible for their Muslim staff.