A doctor in Great Britain is under investigation for racism and could be forced out of his profession after he "politely" asked a Muslim mother to remove her niqab — an Islamic face veil that exposes only the eyes — so he could better hear her describe her daughter's suspected tonsillitis, the Telegraph reported.
What's the background?
Keith Wolverson — a general practice family doctor with 23 years of experience — was working at a walk-in center at Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent at the time of the encounter last year and said the woman consented without raising any objection, the paper reported.
But he added that her husband showed up soon after and issued a formal complaint — which indicated the mother said she felt "victimized and racially discriminated against" and that Wolverson was "rude" and "gave her a dirty look," the Telegraph noted.
In addition, the family alleged that Wolverson refused to continue the consultation until she removed her niqab, the paper added, which the doctor denied.
What happened next?
The General Medical Council sent Wolverson a letter saying he's under investigation for racism and could be kicked out of the profession, the paper said.
The Daily Mirror said the investigation could see Wolverson "struck off the medical register."
The GMC said doctors must respect patients' choice of religious dress and consider the potential for upset if patients are asked to expose parts of their bodies they don't want to, the Telegraph noted.
'I'm not racist'
Wolverson told the paper he's found it impossible to get work since last June's incident and is considering tasks such as injecting Botox to make ends meet.
"I'm not racist — this is nothing to do with race, religion, or skin color; it's about clarity of communication," Wolverson told The Sun, according to the Telegraph. "I found it difficult to understand what the woman was saying behind her veil, so [I] politely asked her to remove it. I needed to hear what was wrong with her daughter, so I could offer the safest possible care."
Wolverson said most of his Muslim patients automatically remove the veil upon entering the consultation room, the paper said, and that the investigation has been a "major injustice" and that he "absolutely no longer" wants to be a doctor.
In addition, a petition calling for the GMC to "treat this man fairly and look at all the evidence" gained over 20,000 signatures in a little over a day, the paper noted.