Religion and science somehow end up rubbing each other the wrong way at some point in time. A 52-year-old doctor was thrown off balance when 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 against a Muslim woman for asking her to remove her veil in June last year.
According to Dr Keith Wolverson an employee at Royal Stoke University in Stoke-on-Trent, when the woman checked in with concerns over her daughter having tonsils, he struggled to hear the mother’s account of the girl’s health problems because her speech was being obscured by her niqab. Doctor Keith then ‘politely’ asked the woman to remove the veil covering her face so he could be sure what she was saying and the mother complied with his request without raising any objections.
“I asked her, would you kindly remove your face veil please because it makes communication very difficult. 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,” he said.
But half an hour after the consultation, her husband arrived and declared he was making a complaint about the GP’s behaviour. He was later served with a form outlining the complaints saying 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.
“He sat outside my consultation room and threateningly made eye contact towards me whenever I went out to fetch each patient. He then made a formal complaint and I was prevented from working at the walk-in centre again.
Over the 23 years, he has bee working as a GP, he has had a clean record, and after this incident, he plans on quitting no matter the outcome of the investigations.
“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,” he cried foul.
The woman claimed he was rude and gave her a dirty look, leaving her shocked and crying. She said she felt victimised and racially discriminated against.
In support of her claims, a Human rights campaigner 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 the patient to write down her medical complaints.
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.”