Doctor who asked Muslim woman to remove veil suspended for nine months

A doctor from Derby who asked a Muslim woman to remove her veil when it was not deemed necessary has been suspended for nine months. 

Dr Keith Wolverson, 56, was deemed by a medical tribunal to have committed several “serious” acts of misconduct earlier this year.

They included repeating his request to the Muslim woman, named Mrs Q, to remove her veil three times, during a consultation on May 13, 2018.

In other incidents, he wrote in the notes of 15 patients criticising their English speaking skills and those of their relatives between January and April 2018, saying among other things that it was “unacceptable” and “not good enough.”

Duncan Toole, chair of the tribunal, said: “(The Tribunal) went on to consider the public interest in this case, and the need to uphold public confidence in the profession. It had found Dr Wolverson’s actions to be deplorable, which had the ability to undermine the public’s confidence in the profession. It reminded itself that Dr Wolverson had responded dishonestly to a patient complaint, repeatedly requested the removal of a face veil, and made offensive remarks in medical records.

“However, it balanced this with the public’s need to have good doctors, that there were no patient safety concerns in this case and that Dr Wolverson had provided 25 plus years of service as a doctor. It determined that the public’s trust would not be undermined if Dr Wolverson was allowed to return to practise once he had gained sufficient insight into his actions. The tribunal therefore determined that a sanction of suspension would be appropriate and proportionate.”

Submissions made on behalf of Dr Wolverson at the sanction hearing in October said that the misconduct was borne out of “ignorance and insensitivity” but he had since undertaken a communication course and equality and diversity training, and that there had been no further incidents of misconduct either before the matters in question or in the four years after them.

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Dr Wolverson said in written submissions: “I no longer request the removal of a face veil and would not do so save in very particular circumstances. An example would be where necessary to inspect a facial injury, perhaps necessitating the suturing of a wound.

“However, alternatives such as consultation with a female doctor (which might not always be possible) or sending a photograph could be considered”.

Dr Wolverson, who now works as a locum in out-of-hours shifts in Warwickshire and Cornwall, said he planned to appeal the ruling and said the suspension risked robbing the public of an experienced doctor.

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