A Muslim Malaysian doctor, Farah Roslan, introduced the idea of disposable, sterile headscarves in the Royal Derby Hospital, where she was a medical student, after having to leave the operating theatre multiple times due to infection control. The hospital is credited to being the first to introduce them in the U.K.
"I'd been using [the same headscarf] all day which obviously wasn't clean and ideal," she told BBC Radio Derby. "I didn't feel comfortable taking it off and I was pulled out from the theatre, respectfully.”
As a way to try and find a middle ground between “dress code due to faith” and the “passion” of being in the operating theatre, she looked into practices of hijabi doctors in Malaysia before creating the final model.
The hospital distributed the headscarves for the first time this month, and is hoping to introduce it to all of the other trusts in the U.K., but the National Health Service in the U.K. said it would not be a mandatory addition in all hospitals.
“We know it's a quiet, silent, issue around theatres around the country and I don't think it has been formally addressed,” Consultant surgeon Gill Tierney, Roslan’s mentor at the Royal Derby Hospital, said.
The move is a much needed one across the country, where there is a large Muslim minority – making up around 5% of the population – whose women are unable to fully practice medicine because of NHS's dress code policy, which dictates that women must be ‘Bare Below the Elbows’ and puts strict rules around headscarves.