Face of the day

Doctor who faces inquiry for asking a Muslim to lift her veil says he will quit after 23 years as a GP due to the ‘major injustice’ of the investigation
  • Dr Keith Wolverson was unable to hear the woman talk because of her niqab
  • He was working at the walk-in centre at Royal Stoke University in Stoke-on-Trent
  • The woman said she felt ‘victimised and racially discriminated’ by the doctor
  • Her husband declared he was making a complaint about the GP’s behaviour

[…] Dr Keith Wolverson said he ‘politely’ asked the woman to take off the garment for patient safety reasons during a consultation last year because he was unable to hear her explain her sick daughter’s symptoms.
He was then ‘deeply upset’ when last week he received a letter from the General Medical Council, the professional regulator, informing him that he was subject to an inquiry over allegations of racial discrimination which could result in him being struck off.

[…] Dr Wolverson, […] has practised as a GP for 23 years and has an unblemished record[…]

He said: ‘I feel a major injustice has taken place. This is why you are waiting so long to see your GP and doctors are leaving in droves. This country will have no doctors left if we continue to treat them in this manner. I’m deeply upset.
‘A doctor’s quest to perform the very finest consultation for the safety of the patient has been misinterpreted in a duplicitous manner to suggest there has been an act of racism committed. I absolutely no longer want to be a doctor.’

[…] ‘I asked her, would you kindly remove your face veil please because it makes communication very difficult,’ Dr Wolverson explained. ‘Normally this issue doesn’t arise because patients automatically do so.
‘One would think that any parent would be wholly supportive and grateful that a doctor was trying to safely treat their child.’
According to Dr Wolverson, the mother complied with his request without raising any objections.

But half an hour after the consultation, her husband arrived and declared he was making a complaint about the GP’s behaviour.
‘He sat outside my consultation room and threateningly made eye contact towards me whenever I went out to fetch each patient,’ Dr Wolverson said. ‘He then made a formal complaint and I was prevented from working at the walk-in centre again.’

It has since emerged that NHS bosses sent the GMC a form outlining the complaints. It says the woman told the doctor she did not want to remove the veil on religious grounds but he refused to continue the consultation unless she did.

Dr Wolverson is now facing an inquiry but he said that, regardless of its outcome, he does not want to work as a GP anymore
It claims he was ‘rude’ and ‘gave her a dirty look’, leaving her shocked and crying. She said she felt ‘victimised and racially discriminated’ against.

Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern said losing a doctor over the issue would be ‘criminal’. ‘A doctor needs to be sensitive to a patient’s religion but safety must always come first,’ she added.

A spokesman for The Doctors’ Association UK said: ‘It is of utmost importance that the religious wishes of our patients are respected. However, evidently there are some circumstances where removal of a niqab or burka is necessary for medical assessment and treatment.
‘The GMC should consider issuing clear guidelines to protect both doctors and our patients.’

Human rights campaigner Aisha Ali-Khan tweeted: ‘I don’t believe [a] doctor should be prosecuted for doing his job *but* he should have asked for a female third party to help, or asked patient to write down her medical complaints.’[…]

Daily Mail