Doc was ‘racist’ for asking a Muslim woman to show her face

Doc was ‘racist’ for asking a Muslim woman to show her face May 20, 2019

A UK doctor – under investigation for ‘victimisation and racial discrimination’ because he asked a Muslim woman to lift her veil so that he could better communicate with her – says he will quit the medical profession.

Image via YouTube/Tony Foster

Dr Keith Wolverson, above, said the discrimination inquiry he is facing is a “major injustice” after speaking to the woman at a walk-in centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

He says he asked politely if the woman would lift the garment, which concealed her entire face, and claims she was not offended by the request.

However, her husband later complained on her behalf and she now says she felt “victimised and racially discriminated” by the doctor.

Wolverson, 52, said he was “deeply upset” when he received a letter from the General Medical Council, the professional regulator, last week.

It said he was subject to an inquiry over allegations of racial discrimination which could result in him being struck off as a doctor.

Wolverson has practiced as a GP for 23 with an unblemished record and last night said he was quitting the job due to the row.

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.

During the incident, the Muslim mother said her daughter, who was 10 or 11, could be suffering from tonsillitis.

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.

Wolverson says the mother lifted the veil without any objections, but her husband arrived half an hour and accused the GP of racism and discrimination.

He sat outside my consultation room and threateningly made eye contact towards me whenever I went out to fetch each patient.

In the video below, the doctor said he had been inundated with messages of support.

A petition launched by Peri Morgan demanding that the doctor not be sacked has garnered more than 14,000 signatures.

Morgan said:

I believe he acted in the best interest of the child involved and their was no racist or religious discrimination in his actions. We need to ensure the General Medical Council treat this man fairly and look at all the evidence.

Our NHS is severely understaffed and we cannot afford to lose doctors due to fabricated accusations of discrimination.

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  • Why don’t all these Muslims just go back to Islamistan where they belong?

  • Chris Hogue

    He couldn’t effectively determine her race until the veil was lifted. It may have been prejudiced, but this and Islamophobia isn’t racism.

  • Cynthia

    Professional regulators investigate bogus complaints all the time. Sure, theoretically the regulators have the power to strip someone of their ability to practice, but that is exceedingly rare unless you are molesting your patients.

    It is quite likely that he received what was likely a form letter and went into a panic that wasn’t really warranted.

    All he would need to do is explain that he finds it easier to make out words when he can see the person speaking and observe expressions and maybe read lips.

  • rubaxter

    Can’t wait to see the LWNJ Corbynites paralyze the gummint and nation with their Offensensitivity.

    Who’s left now that the Lib Dems have self-destructed?

  • overgrownhobbit

    im waiting for more info to drop … there seems like something more to this story ….

  • BeaverTales

    The UK GMC is seeking a double standard in the care of Muslim women compared to all other women The physician patient relationship was dependent n her being able to lift the veil so that he could assess her. That was his right and his obligation if he felt that way. She could have refused and left. He didn’t browbeat her or force her, he just said

    “would you kindly remove your face veil please because it makes communication very difficult”

    I don’t see how a doctor can effectively do his or her job when the patient is covered from head to toe in a shroud or veil. This woman should have specifically requested a female physician and/or that her husband or a Muslim cleric supervise the visit if she felt her modesty was more important than a fully transparent visit and/or good communication with her doctor.

    Maybe doctor visits in the UK between male doctors and Muslim women in the western world should be done in the functional equivalent of a Catholic confessional, lest breaches of religious modesty be equated with crimes like rape and sexual impropriety. If a male doctor misses the diagnosis for a serious illness by misunderstanding a muffled word under a piece of cloth or missing a telltale sign on the face on a woman with no such restriction (i.e. a rash, an asymmetric facial muscle, a mass on the thyroid, etc), he would be sued .

  • Dr Sarah

    Sadly, not necessarily. The GMC have built up an appalling reputation for their insensitive and inappropriate handling of baseless complaints against doctors.

    Reading this, it’s quite possible that the husband went straight to firing a complaint off to the GMC without going through intermediate channels, that this was indeed a form letter from them, and that Wolverson concluded that he wasn’t going to get any sort of fair or sensible treatment from them if he did fight the case. But, sadly, if that was his conclusion, there’s a pretty good chance it was completely right.

  • Jennny

    I’m sorry the woman was offended, but as a user of our wonderful NHS, I can tell anyone who doesn’t know, one just asks for an appointment with a female GP if one prefers it for any reason. And as many more women are in General Practice than men, that request can always be met.

  • overgrownhobbit

    I guess I am ruined by the sorry state of medical boards in the US: you are basically allowed to rape your patients under surgical anaesthesia. In the states, if a physician goes before a medical board, he usually hires a very expensive attorney, he pays a fee in the $10-50 k range if he was especially misbehaved, and either agrees to some sort of professional mediation or professional monitoring (esp if the physician claims impairment by mental/physical illness or drug addiction). This means that incompetent doctors are treated as being more easily re-mediated than an impaired physician. Ouch.

    Under this framework, no sane american physician would worry about such and inquiry, and usually it is only the worst ones that resign rather than face scrutiny. I was not aware our medical disciplinary system in this country was so substandard compared to the rest of the world.

  • Ann Kah

    It sounds as if it was the husband alone who was offended. His “possession”, don’t you know…

  • carlkrause

    I would wager that this isn’t the entire story.

  • carlkrause

    He could see other parts like the hands or it was in the chart that she filled out before the visit.

  • Anat

    Slight correction: The mother was veiled, but it was the daughter that needed to be assessed, in this case. There is no mention of the daughter also being veiled, so the request to remove the veil was strictly for communication purposes, not to enable seeing the patient.

  • BeaverTales

    Thanks for the correction, but I believe the same issue applies.

    In my own case, with certain kinds of accents, extremely soft speakers, and some speech impediments, I sometimes have to read lips to facilitate my understanding of a particular speaker better (veiled or unveiled), and perhaps the doctor had similar issues that inhibited communication with the mother…

  • Anat

    I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that were the case.

  • The domineering-Muslim-guy is one of our go-to tropes, but by all accounts the husband wasn’t at the consultation. So the only way he’d have known about his wife having to remove her veil is if she found the experience uncomfortable enough to tell him about it.

  • kyuss

    this is what happens when you let people wear masks in polite society. hopefully, Quebec has the stones to ban this sort of nonsense so they can be an example to the world.

  • Garry Willits

    Islam is not a race is it is a religion so racism does not apply and my understanding of the hijab verses (which might be wrong I admit) is that it refers to covering the head not the face so this at worst a cultural offence. My view is that she was not under duress to remove her veil so the doctor did nothing wrong by asking if she would. Legally the mother has a duty of care to her children so not facilitating communication could be seen as neglect by social services.

  • Broga

    This isn’t about racism. The woman, the patient, wasn’t offended. It’s about the self important, bumptious, “I’m important and I decide what my wife thinks” husband. It’s bonkers. Haven’t the MP’s got a responsibility for stopping this nonsense.

    Is this the whole story? It just seems so bizarre as it stands? Has the patient got an independent opinion?

  • rubaxter

    The problem is, we don’t and CANNOT know the whole story.

    We don’t know what the daughter later said to the mom, what the mom told the dad, what kind of person any of them are, what kind of day the parents had, what the latest rage is in ‘religious rage’, whether the doctor needed to tell if the other person understood what he was saying, etc.

    At this point, I’m glad I’m not at the pointy end of this issue. All over a B/S ‘custom’ that is not mandatory, except for people trying to appear as holy as Mohammad and his wives.

  • Islam is not a race is it is a religion so racism does not apply

    Terrorist isn’t a race, and neither is immigrant. However, our society’s discourse about terrorism and immigration is full of racism.

    Same with Islam.

  • rubaxter

    With normal people, I need to see faces and sometimes read lips, being as I was raised in one part of the country and moved to another often heavily accented one. This is especially true if I need to verify THEY understood what I said, with no look of confusion or exasperation.

  • al kimeea

    No, the nice ones can stay. Just the eedjits should go. Don’t let the door slap yer arse on the way out.

  • Garry Willits

    To criticise a religion doesn’t make you a racist though. I’m critical of most organised religions for the harmful ideas they propagate – that doesn’t mean I have a dislike of the adherents as people. Theres no logical way that you can say a disrespect for a religious belief is discrimination. If I say Jehova Witnesses use of shunning or refusal to take blood transfusions is wrong that’s a criticism of the ideas in the religion – I’m not discriminating against a group of people. Same with the hijab or various orthodox Jewish practices for similar reasons and most other religions. Like I say, all religions are a collection of ideas that are either benign, harmless or harmful. We should be able to question these ideas as we would any ideas prevalent in society – they shouldn’t get a free pass.

  • al kimeea

    husband: Honey, did the doctor ask you to remove your veil?

    wife: Yes, dear.

    husband: Racist prick

    or something like that, is just as possible as any other guesstimation – without more info

    “The domineering-Muslim-guy” is a thing, just like those in xianity, not just a trope. The Holey Texts make it pretty clear that women are property, like children.

    Some people take those texts very seriously and, with their son, drown 4 women in the Welland Canal for besmirching their good family name. Others pray, rather than seek medical care for their babies, with predictably deadly results.

    BTW, you’re here writing about religion when children starve world-wide

  • That kind of reasoning has long seemed more like a distinction without a difference, especially when we’re talking about Muslims. Religion isn’t just a set of ideas, it involves matters of cultural and personal identity, belief, and behavior. Does anyone really think they can criticize the way people think and behave and not make judgments about the people themselves? Let’s be honest, calling religion a dangerous delusion is sort of implying that religious people are dangerous and delusional.

    And this is all about applying critical scrutiny to a hated minority, trying to characterize Muslims as secretive and hypersensitive. It’s appealing to a lot of suspicion and mistrust of Muslims in the West.

  • Paula Dufour

    Working on it…

  • persephone

    Several years ago, there was a case in Florida where a Muslim woman didn’t want to remove her veil for the driver’s license photo. The judge sided with the DMV.

  • al kimeea

    history shows religious people are quite dangerous to any who don’t share their faith and very hypersensitive to valid criticism

    ask the women of Georgia & Alabama

    Islam is an idea. Muslims are convinced of its veracity from birth just as the majority of the people in this forum have been done with xianity. I’ll wager 500 quatloos that a majority of these formerly religious people consider religion to be dangerous. Perhaps based on their own personal experiences. My wife’s boss’s wife is a Muslim pink-skin. As are many other members of the popular cult…

  • Garry Willits

    I think there is a definite difference – which I can explain. First though I think you have straw manned me some what. If you read my comment I was explicit in pointing out that some religious ideas are harmful – not all. We all have bias and blind spots to our faults, its part of being human which is why critical reflection is vital. Cultural and personal identities, beliefs, and behaviour are all informed by ideas. In the case of religion people (including yourself) seem to want to put these ideas into a special category of not being up for scrutiny. People are still being burnt to death after being suspected of being witches – the communities have various cultural beliefs that trigger that behaviour. Should we not be critical of that or should we just look the other way because religious ideas are seen as off limits? How about FGM or stoning women who have had relations outside of marriage? The important point is we have to recognise that people do not choose to be indoctrinated from birth with bad ideas, so we should be careful to question the ideas that were forced on them not blame them for something they had no volition over.

  • Cultural and personal identities, beliefs, and behaviour are all informed by ideas.

    Like I said, I don’t consider this a meaningful distinction. It’s just our self-serving way of demanding that people accept our criticism, ridicule, or intimidation as nothing personal but rather about their “ideas.” Since we don’t care about religion, we insist that religious people be able to separate themselves completely from their “ideas” as if they’re just furniture that they can choose to discard when it’s no longer useful. I’m not trying to exempt “ideas” from scrutiny, I’m making it clear that I think cases like these are about exempting ourselves from consequences for hating on minorities like Muslims in the West.

    We need to get it through our heads that religious people don’t just look at religion as some external set of claims. They see their religion as something that defines them and their community in a very intimate and comprehensive way. And particularly when it comes to Muslims in the US or Europe, they’re subject to oppression and hatred because of their religious affiliation. It’s disingenuous to say we’re opposed to Islam rather than Muslims, because Islam can only be defined in terms of the way Muslims live, think, and behave.

    It would be like telling someone his mother’s a whore, then acting surprised that he got mad when you didn’t say anything bad about him personally. You may not agree, but at least understand that that’s the way I see this hackneyed rhetorical ruse.

  • Garry Willits

    1/ Ideas are not part of your DNA or specific to a particular culture.It represents a proposition with premises and conclusions. No need to put that in quotes – it was it is. An idea either stands up to scrutiny or it doesn’t. The process of deciding that is an argument where the idea is exposed to criticism and tested for its veracity. You caste criticism in a negative light, comparing it to intimidation and ridicule. In actual fact criticism is of it self a wonderfully healthy thing which allows you to change your ideas about something based on considering evidence. With it individuals can grow and by extension their societies. Without it we have dogma – mental straight jackets on what you are allowed to think.
    All the civil rights in society have come about because people have criticised and protested.

    2/ You seem to be confirming that ideas that come from religions are in your mind in a protected category above criticism because they form a part of a persons identity – ie these are the ideas given when young and susceptible and must not be challenged. I would probably argue that because these ideas are embedded before the individual is old enough to evaluate them ( mountains of psychological evidence for that ) they are important ones to be publicly discussed. A white nationalist may well be similarly indoctrinated – is white nationalism above criticism?

    3/ You talk about religions as they were a homogeneous hive mind. But that’s never the case, we have autonomous individuals who have overlapping agreements on some things and disagreements about others. The words you use represent an attempt to stifle not just outsiders but reformers within the religion dissenting against orthodox voices.
    Are you one of those people who thinks that those who have left a religion are guilty of hate speech when they say they think it needs to change?

    4/ Your example doesn’t work. You are equating a personal insult about a relative as being the same as a criticism of a harmful idea. Surely you can see that they are not same? A person has the right to be exposed to ideas that challenge all their beliefs – they don’t have to be protected from them.

    5/ I was very specific that we are talking about only harmful ideas that could be coming from any religion (or for that matter ideology – which we all have religious or not ) .I’m suspicious that you keep returning to Islam. Are you saying Islam is a special case or do you think all religions are above criticism?
    I know lots of muslims ( including many women who don’t sing wear veils ) . I would not be in the business of criticising their ideas uninvited but if they voiced an idea I thought harmful ( such as the men in Birmingham who said women were created for men’s pleasure ) I would. But I would do the same for the Christians, Hindus, Sheikhs, you name it.

    I’m not denying Islamophobia is a real problem but I don’t accept that means we can’t treat harmful ideas in the religion as off limits for fear of feeding bigots. They will be bigots regardless.

  • First off, I want to reiterate that I don’t buy, not for one minute, that you’re conducting some kind of objective, scholarly study of the “ideas” of Muslims. No matter how many times I say it, you don’t seem to acknowledge that I consider this a desperate rhetorical ploy. Posts like this aren’t about examining “ideas,” they’re about stereotyping Muslims as secretive, dangerous and irrational, just because they identify as Muslims. It’s racism, plain and simple.

    All the civil rights in society have come about because people have criticised and protested.

    There’s a big difference between oppressed minorities protesting their plight on the one hand, and members of the majority demonizing already oppressed minorities on the other. Do you really not see the difference here?

    Like I said, you’re making it sound like I’m trying to protect religious ideas from criticism. But what this is really about is people like you trying to protect privileged members of the majority from criticism for targeting and demonizing minorities. The USA and Europe are desperate to exclude and marginalize Muslims, and the “freethinkers” are playing into the hands of those who detest Muslims and resent multiculturalism.

  • al kimeea

    Yes, very well put. But you’re trying to nail jello to a wall. Asking Shem reasonable questions, that are based on his proclamations will be either ignored, labelled “loaded” or a “hoop”, then

    you might be maligned
    maybe you respond in kind
    “Why are you pissy”


    Or you’ll get the drek he spewed

    You’re a racist

  • al kimeea

    But what this is really about is people like you trying to protect
    privileged members of the majority from criticism for targeting and
    demonizing minorities

    Islam is a dumb idea

    This is an accurate portrayal of your duly elected Commander In Cheeto – it’s metaphor for his intelligence if you fail to grasp the significance

    and evidence of the woo that Voodoo do…

    Yet your criticism of the reason, knowledge and critical thinking involved in science in no way protects wooligans from criticism due to the tyranny of the majority…

  • Freethinker

    The only “duress” she is under is to be forced to cover herself on the orders of her male owner.

  • Freethinker

    objective, scholarly study of the “ideas” of Muslims.

    Oh gosh no, Allah forbid we took an objective and scholarly and above all else factual approach to dissecting the strange propensity Islam in particular tends to have that drives so many of its adherents to acts of inhumanity and violence. You refuse to argue on facts because you have no evidence to back up your continuous and nauseating defense and apologizing for all things Muslim. Just like we can call out every single Catholic to be a pedophile criminal organization supporter we can also question why anyone is surprised that followers of Muhammad, [piss be on his name] a murderous [historically verifiable fact], warlord [historically verifiable fact] who loved having sex with prepubescent children more than any other female [historically verifiable fact], ALL must as a matter of faith perceive him as (al-insān al-kāmil) literally “a perfect being” [just ask any of your Muslim BFFS] would then naturally go out of their way to emulate him. There is not a single major world mythology that is as toxic, as misogynistic, backwards and inbred as Islam. At some point we need to call out the followers on the philosophical excrement they live by and want to infect the world with. But stating facts to regressive Liberal like you is like philosophical kryptonite. All you are capable of doing is flail in protest while clutching your pearls and providing nothing to back up your apologetics.

  • Sau Peih

    I think nowadays race is a choice anyway.

  • Sau Peih

    If the husband/owner wants to play the race card, I’m going to go the woman was guilty of cultural appropriation as she went to a Western-medicine doctor.