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Date: 7 May 2021

Time: 16:19

Members of staff at UHB wearing culturally inclusive personal protective equipment

UHB to produce and supply culturally inclusive PPE

Story posted/last updated: 25 March 2021

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) becomes one of the first trusts to make culturally inclusive PPE available to staff across its four hospital sites.

Working with local Midlands manufacturers, Contechs, the Trust will now supply different types of PPE headwear that are appropriate for colleagues who wear hijabs, need to protect long hair such as dreadlocks and braids or afro hair, and protective wear for beards.

The need for the PPE was made apparent following conversations among the BAME shared Governance Council, in which council members expressed their concern with the PPE available at the start of the pandemic, worried that it may leave them exposed to the virus because it didn’t accommodate their hair.

This concern was then raised with senior leaders with the Trust, who put the council in touch with the Trust’s procurement team. From there, the decision was made to add culturally inclusive protective headwear to the PPE already being produced and supplied by a working group led by the Trust.

The new protective headwear has launched across UHB with a plan to share them with organisations in the region as more supplies become available.

The working group, which was established early on in the response to the pandemic, is made up of West Midlands based manufacturers who were struggling for business due to lockdown restrictions. Now they help to produce and supply PPE to NHS trusts in the Birmingham Hospitals Alliance (BHA).

With the BHA, which looks after UHB, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Hospital, going through approximately 100,000 surgical gowns a week, their central procurement team quickly realised they could no longer rely solely on international markets, so decided to take matters into their own hands.

Experts in UHB’s procurement teams are involved in the procurement of the PPE every step of the way, from concept and sampling to ensuring they comply with strict infection, prevention and control measures. They are able to have oversight of the quality of PPE supplied to them, while working with and supporting local businesses.

Currently, Contechs is the only business within the working group producing and supplying the culturally inclusive protective headwear.

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