Posted on May 20, 2019

GP Facing the Sack After ‘Telling Muslim Woman to Remove Her Niqab During Visit Because He Could Not Hear Her’

Emer Scully et al., Daily Mail, May 20, 2019

A GP who could face the sack for asking a Muslim patient to remove her face veil says she took it off ‘willingly’ before her husband launched a complaint claiming the doctor had been ‘rude’.

Dr Keith Wolverson, 52, of Derby, is under investigation after a patient’s husband accused him of upsetting his wife by asking her to remove her niqab so he could hear what was wrong with her child.

But the GP, who has been practising for 23 years, said the patient agreed ‘willingly’ and ‘there was no sign from her that she was upset’ as they sat in the consulting room at Royal Stoke University Hospital last June.

But, when her husband arrived half an hour later, he complained to hospital bosses, Mr Wolverson told MailOnline.

And now Dr Wolverson will be investigated by the General Medical Council for alleged discrimination.

‘It’s not been a great time, I wanted to get this into the public arena. It was so absurd,’ he said. ‘The woman had a full face veil on, which I asked her to remove for clarity of communication.

‘There was no sign from her that she was upset or upset with me for asking.

‘She did so willing, later on her husband attended the treatment centre and made a formal complaint.

‘I’m not racist, this has nothing to do with race, religion or skin colour.’

And Dr Wolverson said previously when he had treated Muslim women wearing a niqab they removed it without his asking.

He added: ‘I’ve treated women in the past who have worn similar veils but on those occasions I’ve never had to ask them to remove it they just did.

‘I’ve seen the suggest that I could’ve asked a female GP to carry out the treatment for the woman’s daughter but there was no female GP in the centre.’

The doctor, who said he has never before faced sanctions, may now be struck off. ‘It’s not been easy, I was just trying to do my job, I’ve not working in medicine since,’ he added.

A form was sent to the GMC outlining the complaints against Dr Wolverson. It claims the woman told him she did not want to remove the veil on religious grounds, but he would not continue the consultation if she refused.

The official complaint claims the mother was left crying and feeling ‘victimised and racially discriminated’ against. And it says the doctor was ‘rude’ and ‘gave her a dirty look’.

Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the doctor’s behaviour was ‘offensive’, adding that a female member of staff could have been called to help. He said that Dr Wolverson should go on a diversity awareness course.

Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said it would be ‘criminal’ for a doctor to be struck off over this. She added: ‘A doctor needs to be sensitive to a patient’s religion but safety must always come first.’

According to the GMC, doctors who wear a veil must remove it if their patient sees it as an ‘obstacle’ to communication. But no advice is offered for GPs in the reverse situation.

The GMC has been urged by The Doctors’ Association UK to offer guidelines on when doctors can reasonably ask patients to remove clothing.

A 2009 NHS guide said same-sex consultations cannot always be provided.