Wednesday, Aug 05, 2020 | Last Update : 07:57 PM IST

133rd Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra45795629935616142 Tamil Nadu2682852087844349 Andhra Pradesh176333956251604 Karnataka145830692722704 Delhi1391561252264033 Uttar Pradesh100310572711817 West Bengal80984568841785 Telangana6894649675563 Gujarat65704485612529 Bihar6203140760349 Assam4816233429115 Rajasthan4667932832732 Haryana3779631226448 Odisha3768124483258 Madhya Pradesh3508225414912 Kerala279561629988 Jammu and Kashmir2239614856417 Punjab1901512491462 Jharkhand140705199129 Chhatisgarh10109761369 Uttarakhand8008484795 Goa7075511460 Tripura5520367528 Puducherry4147253758 Manipur301818147 Himachal Pradesh2879171013 Nagaland24056594 Arunachal Pradesh179011053 Chandigarh120671520 Meghalaya9173305 Sikkim7832971 Mizoram5022820
  World   Europe  04 May 2020  Sikh doctors in UK complain about forced beard shaving

Sikh doctors in UK complain about forced beard shaving

PTI
Published : May 4, 2020, 3:52 pm IST
Updated : May 4, 2020, 3:52 pm IST

Sikh Doctors Association reports of at least five Sikhs being moved out of their usual shifts at the NHS hospitals

Representational Image. (AFP)
 Representational Image. (AFP)

London: British Sikh doctors are campaigning for a better procurement strategy by the National Health Service for personal protective equipment required on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in hospitals after a number of them were forced away from key roles due to their beards.

The Sikh Doctors Association had reports of at least five Sikhs being moved out of their usual shift rota at the NHS hospitals for refusing to shave their beards and failing a so-called “fit test” of critical facial protective gear.

 

"“These doctors got in touch with us in some distress for being forced out of their usual roles, which was causing tension among colleagues as they had to cover their work,"” said Dr Sukhdev Singh, chairperson of the Sikh Doctors Association.

“The problem arose due to a shortage of specialist facial protective masks called Powdered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPRs), which is a hood respirator required in critical areas such as intensive care units. The ‘fit tests' and equipment need to be geared towards all staff needs, including orthodox Sikhs with turbans and beards,” he said.

All the individual cases of the five British Sikh doctors have since been resolved through acquisition of PAPRs, a more expensive but reusable kit costing around GBP 1,000.

 

The association is now working with individual NHS Trusts and more widely with the NHS England to ensure there is greater awareness around procuring such specialist protective gear in sufficient quantities well in time. The regular cloth FFP3 masks would not work with beards, a factor that could impact other communities such as Muslims as well.

“The system of procurement cannot continue blindly. There has to be greater interaction and surveys done to ensure that specific staff requirements are taken on board so that there is sufficient stock of the right kind of PPE available in times of crisis such as a pandemic,” added Singh.

Sikh Council UK has also been liaising with the NHS England alongside the association over the issue and had written to Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive officer of NHS England, last month seeking his intervention over greater clarity on “fit tests” and taking religious sensitivities into account.

 

"“It has come to our attention that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Trusts around the United Kingdom will be carrying out 'fit tests' in which certain medical staff could be asked to remove facial hair,"” the council said.

“For Sikhs, their duty of care is intrinsically interlinked with their faith. Therefore, we ask that no Sikh healthcare professional is forcibly made to choose between breaking their faith or breaking their frontline NHS role,” it noted.

NHS England has since confirmed that “reasonable adjustments” would be made.

"“I wholeheartedly agree that reasonable adjustments should be made by providers in this area. As such, in my weekly discussions with trust medical directors and chief nurses from NHS trusts I will state this clearly as a reminder,"” Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of the NHS England, said in response.

 

The short supply of PPE has been a major issue for NHS hospitals tackling the highly infectious coronavirus, with the government under considerable pressure over the lack of enough protective gear for frontline staff.

Several private fundraising efforts have also been launched to raise enough funds to produce and procure required facial masks and aprons.

Tags: sikh doctors, britain, coronavirus, covid-19, protection gear, beard, sikh doctors association
Location: United Kingdom, England, London