Ellern Mede is a responsible employer and we have done a great many things to support our staff during these unusual times, from shift pattern changes to providing hotel accommodation to reduce the need for travel. We also support all faiths. Many of our staff want to pray during their shifts and we support this. It just so happens that Ramadan this year coincides with lockdown. This too receives our support.

Islam’s holiest time of RAMADAN began on 23 April in lockdown Britain and continues through until 23 May. Ellern Mede staff are welcome to choose to fast if it is possible under present working circumstances and as an employer we provide space and time for prayer where possible. Interestingly, at this time, the community appears to recognise that these are not normal times. The British Islamic Medical Association sought advice from scholars, who said there could be an exemption for those working in an intense and vital role in health care. The BBC interviewed Dr Kiran Rahim who works as a paediatric registrar at Homerton Hospital. You can see this interview here.

Dr Rahim will change how she marks Ramadan this year because of the Corona Virus precautionary measures. On days when she works at the hospital spending hours behind a hot mask on an intensive care ward treating people with Covid-19, she will not fast. This is because it is even more important than usual under these circumstances to stay hydrated.

“Many like me are choosing not to fast when we are working in the ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit),” Dr Rahim says.

“It is tough in that PPE (personal protective equipment), you can only go one or two hours at a time before you have to take it off and take a drink. It is a relief to be allowed not to fast at this time, but it is also really sad because the fast is something I want to do,” she says.

Normally the paediatric registrar would take her children to her mother’s house where the family would eat together or head out into the city to meet some girlfriends at a restaurant for their Iftar – the ritual fast-breaking meal. This year she will be returning home as usual to her family. For others in the medical profession, including our staff, breaking their fast may be done alone in a hotel room, or on a break in their 12-hour shift in stark contrast to times which have gone before. We thank you all for the amazing work you do.