A British doctor who is being investigated for requesting a Muslim woman to take off her veil received a swelling of support in the form of roughly 10,000 people who have signed a petition in his favor.
Dr. Keith Wolverson, 52, who has 20 years in medical practice, saw a Muslim woman last June who brought her 10 or 11-year-old daughter to Royal Stoke University Hospital, to be treated for suspected tonsillitis, reported the Daily Mail.
Wolverson explained that due to the mother’s niqab, which only leaves the eyes uncovered, he could not hear her clearly. He asked that she remove her veil and she did not object but her husband later filed a complaint. This led the General Medical Council to put him under investigation for alleged racial discrimination.
According to the complaint, the woman allegedly didn’t want to take off her veil and felt “victimized and racially discriminated” against. It added that Wolverson refused to talk further unless she removed her niqab in addition to being “rude” and “gave her a dirty look.” Wolverson denies all the allegations.
He said: “It’s outrageous.I was just trying to do my job properly. I found it difficult to understand what the woman was saying behind her veil, so politely asked her to remove it. I needed to hear what was wrong with her daughter, so I could offer the safest possible care.
I’m not racist.This is nothing to do with race, religion or skin color – it’s about clarity of communication. I’ve treated many Muslim patients and never had a problem when I’ve asked women to remove their veil. Many do it as a courtesy as soon as they enter the consulting room.
He added: “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.”
Regarding the husband, Wolverson continued: “He sat outside my consultation room and threateningly made eye contact towards me whenever I went out to fetch each patient.”
“Unfortunately I’m not able to work at the moment as I’m a locum GP and no one will employ you while you’re under investigation by the GMC. I feel I’ve been left with no alternative but to look at doing something else,” Wolverson said. When asked what that something else would be, he replied, “Probably cosmetic work, botox, things like that. I won’t need to be on the medical register in order to do them.”
In the meantime, Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation described the doctor’s alleged actions as “offensive,” adding that a diversity awareness course is in order. But in an interview with Sun Online, Joyce Robins of Patient Concern countered by saying: “A doctor needs to be sensitive to a patient’s religion but safety must always come first.”
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