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Nurses allowed to wear own tudung to work if within guidelines

Nurses allowed to wear own tudung to work if within guidelines
SingHealth has also come up with its own tudung, sporting special design features, which nurses may use if they prefer.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE - Muslim nurses, allowed to wear the tudung to work from Monday (Nov 1), may use their own headscarves if they follow guidelines set by their organisations, said hospitals.

The National Healthcare Group's group chief human resource officer, Mrs Olivia Tay, told The Straits Times that the group's nurses will be allowed to wear any suitable black, navy blue or white tudung.

The headscarf should also not compromise the proper usage of an N95 surgical mask.

"When an N95 mask is to be worn with the tudung, all staff wearing it must be refitted without any extenders or modifications to the masks with the tudung on, to ensure that a proper seal is achieved," Mrs Tay said.

The National University Health System (NUHS) said its nurses are not allowed to have any embellishments on their headscarves, and they are encouraged to use those made of breathable or sweat-wicking material if working in non-air-conditioned settings.

Hospitals also said the headscarf will not be allowed in high-risk settings that require more stringent levels of cleanliness, such as operating theatres.

SingHealth's group chief nurse, Adjunct Associate Professor Tracy Carol Ayre, said: "Staff are to continue with the use of the single-use disposable caps, where relevant, according to the prevailing infection prevention and control guidelines."

However, she noted that the use of disposable tudung is being considered and more details would be provided at a later date.

SingHealth has also come up with its own tudung, sporting special design features, which nurses may use if they prefer.

Prof Ayre said an implementation working committee, in consultation with the Ministry of Health, has offered headscarves made of moisture-wicking fabric to keep users cool, and which also come with slits in place for surgical masks and stethoscopes.

The SingHealth group includes Singapore General Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

"Extensive discussion and research also went into the design and material to ensure that the tudung offered are safe, convenient and comfortable for our staff," she said.

Staff can purchase the headscarves if they do not wish to use their own.


Nurses are excited about the change in policy, first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally in August.

Ms Noormala Abdul Hamid has been in the nursing sector for 21 years. Although she started wearing the tudung in her daily life 15 years ago, she was not able to do the same at work.

The 43-year-old said she would definitely be wearing the tudung now. "Wearing a tudung does not compromise the quality of care I provide to my patients. This is a great move that I deeply appreciate," said the assistant nurse clinician.

Ms Noormala conducts home visits for patients with chronic diseases who are discharged from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital or Yishun Community Hospital.

She said her Muslim colleagues are equally happy about the move, which they said was progressive.

"We even talked about what colour to wear as a department, even though we have a few options from the hospital. I can feel their excitement," the mother of two said.

Ms Noormala said she hopes more women who held back because of the policy against the tudung would want to join the healthcare sector after this.

"Hopefully this move will encourage more Muslim women to join the healthcare industry, especially at a time like this when it is so essential," she added.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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