'Few, if any' Muslim hospital workers wear full veil

Muslim Council of Britain say those staff who do wear the veil are 'prepared to be pragmatic' and take it off when required

“Few, if any” Muslim women working in hospitals wear a full face veil, the Muslim Council of Britain has said, after the Government ordered a review of guidelines on healthcare workers’ wearing the niqab.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said yesterday that patients had a right to “see the face of the doctor of nurse” treating them, after newspaper reports revealed 17 hospitals have banned healthcare workers from wearing the full face veil, the niqab, while working.

The health minister Dan Poulter has asked professional standards bodies to review their advice on whether doctors and nurses should be allowed to wear a full face veil while working. Currently there is no clear national guidance on the matter, and NHS hospitals are free to set their own policies.

But Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain and a senior health professional said that the Council had “never been made aware of any concerns or complaints raised about doctors, nurses or healthcare professionals wearing the niqab.”

“That is primarily because there are few, if any, who do adopt the face veil in hospitals,” he said. “It is our understanding that Muslim women who do wear the veil are prepared to be pragmatic and take off the veil when required,” he said. 

Dr Shafi described the review as the “latest twist to the ‘moral panic’ about the niqab.”

The Muslim Doctor’s Association said the wearing the niqab while working “could impact the doctor-patient relationship”, but also emphasised that the number of healthcare workers who did so was “very small”.

“The decision to wear the niqab - the veil which covers the face - is a personal choice,” a spokesperson for the Association said. “Within a clinical consultation, wearing of the niqab could impact the doctor-patient relationship and may affect the quality of care that the patient experiences…We would encourage these individuals to discuss this personal choice with their employers to find ways that ensure all patients receive the highest quality of care.”

Asked whether patients have the right to demand not to be treated by a doctor or nurse wearing a veil, Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “They have the right to say that and I have a great deal of sympathy for that, but I do think this should be a professional matter and not a political matter, and that's why I think the people who should be pronouncing on this are the body responsible for professional standards and not the politicians.”

Professor Carol Baxter, head of equality, diversity and human rights at NHS Employers said that while “valuing diversity” is a core value of the NHS, “to ensure the highest level of care is delivered, it is paramount that there are no barriers to effective communication between staff and patients.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence