NHS doctor quits after going viral on YouTube with skincare advice

Dr Hani Hassan is launching a skincare start-up tailored to help people of colour with hyperpigmentation.

Dr Hani Hassan in her video about tackling hyperpigmentation racked up 1.6 million views. (Credit: YouTube / Vote for Hani)
Dr Hani Hassan, in her video about tackling hyperpigmentation, racked up 1.6 million views. (Credit: YouTube / Vote for Hani)

A doctor who graduated during the COVID pandemic became so disillusioned with the pay and conditions that she left full-time work in the NHS to launch her own skincare line.

Dr Hani Hassan finished six years of medical school at King's College University in the summer of 2020, and immediately found herself among the junior doctors tasked with bearing the brunt of coronavirus, working on the frontline as the virus claimed the lives of 200,000 people in the UK alone.

“The amount of responsibility you have is insane," she told Yahoo News. "It's nothing near what your peers would have. To think you're 25 and going home early means that actually, maybe a patient who might be having a heart attack won't be seen for a few more hours, and so you just stay late. But essentially, the pay just doesn't make sense. The amount of responsibility, the amount of work you have to do, the amount of knowledge, and the amount of training.”

Dr Hassan said she loves the NHS and believes in free health care but that the stressful working conditions and low salary meant she was pushed to her limits during the pandemic. “If you don't have resources, it's really difficult to sustain yourself, especially in London, on that kind of salary," she said. “There's a real culture of things like 'don't take your lunch', 'do this because people's lives are on the line'.”

Recommended reading

After three years working full-time for the NHS, Dr Hassan founded the skincare brand Hue, which specialises in tackling hyperpigmentation and is tailored towards people of colour. She specialised in dermatology while working as a GP, but it was her own experience trying to get rid of her hyperpigmentation that motivated her to start her own business.

After conducting research on hyperpigmentation, she posted what became a viral YouTube video titled ‘How to get rid of hyperpigmentation’, which was watched 1.6 million times. Within weeks, people started contacting Dr Hassan to tell them her advice seemed to be working for them. In the video, she recommended a mixture of different skincare products and her own product for Hue is a blend of most of those ingredients.

Dr Hani Hassan in her scrubs. (Credit: Hani Hassan / Instagram)
Dr Hani Hassan in her scrubs. (Credit: Hani Hassan / Instagram)

Despite seeing success with her own product, Dr Hassan has continued to work part-time for the NHS, as a self-employed locum GP as she finds it fulfilling. “In an ideal scenario, I would like to be in a position where I'm doing maybe a day a week or something, I don't know how realistic that's going to be, obviously, but working at a startup is like a full-time endeavour," she explained.

Dr Hassan is not alone in moving out of full-time work as a junior doctor. A survey conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) at the end of 2022 found that more than half (51%) described their desire to continue working in the NHS in the next 12 months as low or very low, while almost half (49%) described their mental or physical wellbeing as low or very low.

The number of doctors leaving the NHS has increased.
The number of doctors leaving the NHS has increased.

Indeed, junior doctors have upcoming strikes planned this month – at 7am on December 20 to 7am on December 23 – and for six days from January 3, the longest strike in NHS history.

In a letter posted by the BMA, they are requesting full pay restoration in order to keep up with the rise in cost of living expenses. "During the last two years, junior doctors have made both an enormous contribution and a significant sacrifice. And yet none of this is recognised by the government," the BMA said in a statement."If junior doctors are forced out of the NHS because of poor pay and conditions, the services we all rely on to look after our loved ones will suffer."