NHS thanks Muslim staff who worked through Ramadan

National Health Service leaders have thanked and commended Muslim staff for serving on the frontline and in supporting roles against the coronavirus crisis whilst fasting during Ramadan.

According to the healthcare journal HSJ, Habib Naqvi, deputy director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard, said: “Along with the rest of the UK, the Muslim NHS workforce has made sterling efforts and sacrifices to delay the spread of the coronavirus by heeding social distancing and adapting government advice.

“This has been a unique time globally, with festivals of Ramadan and Eid occurring during the peak of COVID-19. Muslims and other faith communities have met these challenges head on, and it’s inspiring to see people using technology for prayer and iftar with family and friends throughout Ramadan.

“This virus has made some of our BME communities more vulnerable,” he said, adding that while coronavirus restrictions still remained in place during Eid, the key message remained: ”stay at home unless absolutely necessary, to help contain the virus and save lives.”

Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS, added: “Our Muslim colleagues have been working tirelessly across the NHS, many while navigating the additional challenge of fasting for Ramadan.

”I am thinking of those who are celebrating Eid this year – it will be very different as people will not be able to mark this important occasion with extended members of their families and their friends and communities as they normally would.

Areema Nasreen

“I would like to wish Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim communities – but also encourage everyone to make use of online platforms and alternative approaches to communicating with our family and friends, and work within government guidelines around social distancing.

”The NHS has a diverse workforce with an estimated 3.3 per cent of the 1.4 million NHS workers being from a Muslim background. While fasting plays an important central feature in many major religions, there are a number of exemptions where adult Muslims do not fast during Ramadan.”

In April the NHS developed new Ramadan guidance in partnership with the NHS Muslim Network and the British Islamic Medical Association, outlining key advice to NHS staff and managers working in hospitals and healthcare settings during coronavirus.

The coronavirus crisis has claimed a disproportionate amount of deaths in the Muslim community, including Walsall nurse Areema Nasreen who died on April 3.

Richard Beeken, Chief Executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said at the time: “Any death is devastating but losing one of our own is beyond words. Areema was extremely committed to her role as a Staff Nurse on the Acute Medical Unit at Walsall Manor Hospital.  She was a professional, passionate nurse who started at the trust as a housekeeper in 2003 before working hard to gain her nursing qualification in January 2019.

“Her dedication to her role and her popularity amongst her colleagues is obvious to see with the outpouring of grief and concern we are seeing  around the organisation and on social media. We will do everything that we can in the coming days and weeks to support those that need it.

“Her vocation in nursing was clear for all to see and she always said that she was so blessed to have the role of a nurse which she absolutely loved because she wanted to feel like ‘she could make a difference’ – and you did, Areema, you will be very sadly missed.

“I would, on behalf of the trust like to pass our deepest condolences to Areema’s family and loved ones and our thoughts are with them all at this very sad time.”

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