Doctor who asked Muslim woman to remove veil guilty of misconduct

A doctor has been found guilty of misconduct by a medical tribunal after ordering a Muslim woman to remove her veil and criticising patients’ English language skills.

The Medical Practicioner’s Tribunal Service found that Dr Keith Wolverson discriminated against the woman during an appointment at Royal Stoke University Hospital in 2018.

Despite her protests, the GP requested that she uncover her veil so he could see her lips and better comprehend what she was saying.

Following that, Dr. Wolverton sent an email to colleagues criticising the patient’s ability to communicate in English.

And over a period of four months in 2018, the doctor wrote notes about other women such as one which said: “Explained this to mother as best that one could but is it her duty to learn more English.. being here for five years and not being able to explain what is wrong with her daughter is frankly not good enough.”

Dr Wolverson admitted asking the woman to remove her veil, that he caused her to do so, and apologised during the hearing for any upset he caused her.

But the tribunal ruled he made the request despite her objections and knowing her English was not poor, but in an email dishonestly claimed he struggled to understand her.

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The woman said in her evidence the doctor’s actions had left her “traumatised.”

The tribunal result found: “The request in these circumstances did not treat (the patient) fairly and did not take account of her life choices and beliefs. Given the sensitivities, the Tribunal concluded that the public and profession would expect that such a request from a doctor should only be made after carefully considering the specific circumstances that exist at the time and after concluding that there is a clear reason to make the request. In this case, Dr Wolverson made no such assessment, and he made the request because it is his general practice to do so. This put his interests above that of (the patient) and thus his actions were serious.

“The Tribunal concluded that the public and the profession would also view this conduct as serious and deplorable. The Tribunal therefore found that his actions in requesting that (the patient) remove her face veil in these particular circumstances did constitute serious misconduct.”

The panel will deliberate on Dr Wolverton’s sentence later this year, with options including suspension or dismissal from the medical register.

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