Imperial College Healthcare Trust – Spotlight on Social Inclusion

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is a large, central London NHS Trust.

Their five hospitals have a long track record in research and education, influencing clinical practice nationally and worldwide. They provide acute and specialist healthcare in northwest London for around a million people every year and employ over 14,000 people.


Employee feedback highlighted some challenges for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic members of staff. Some reported that wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) resulted in a particular challenge, because it meant they had to wash theirs more frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic. In certain instances, this resulted in excessive brittleness of the hair and dryness of the scalp. It also caused hair breakage and damage.

Innovative actions

While on shift, Noni Nyathi began wearing a head covering that impressed colleagues. It both protected patients and eliminated the discomfort caused by makeshift solutions.

With support from managers, the Race Equality Network (REN), and the network’s executive sponsors, Noni began working with procurement and senior nursing teams to find a supplier who could produce the newly created bespoke hair caps (which protected hair and could be washed) at scale.

Evidence of impact

The innovative approach to alleviating the discomfort that negatively affected colleagues helped make those employees feel much happier, more valued, and better understood. Hair caps are now part of the Trust’s uniform policy and are available to all who request them. The team have also investigated supplying hijabs and other uniform solutions.

The information contained within this resource was accurate at the time of its publication and subsequent revision. This article was created in 2021 and revised in April 2022.

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