Browsing through his morning report earlier this month, Dr. Keith Wolverson came across a large envelope with the stamp of the General Medical Council and felt his heartbeat beat faster
Browsing through his morning report earlier this month, Dr. Keith Wolverson came across a large envelope with the stamp of the General Medical Council and felt his heartbeat accelerate.
When doctors are unexpectedly contacted by this public entity – whose main purpose is to take disciplinary action and sometimes deregister, practitioners who are guilty of professional misconduct – this is rarely good news.
For a moment he hoped that the documents could relate to a small administrative issue. Since he recently moved to a new home in the market town of Derbyshire in Melbourne, they might have had to deal with his change of address.
When the doctor read the letter, his biggest fears were confirmed. It referred to an unpleasant incident that had happened so long ago that he had almost forgotten it.
In May 2018, while working on his regular £ 80-per-hour shift in the walk-in clinic at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, Dr. Wolverson was consulted by a Muslim woman wearing a veil in its entirety.
She wanted him to treat her five-year-old daughter's throat, but her voice was muted & # 39; through the veil, he says, making it difficult to understand. With courtesy, he says, he asked her to remove it.
She met it with his account, but when she told her husband, he was apparently furious and complained in the hospital.
Stock photo: She wanted him to treat her five-year-old daughter's sore throat, but her voice was & # 39; muted & # 39; through the veil, he says, making it difficult to understand
Now, a year later, the General Medical Council must conduct a formal investigation.
Dr. Wolverson has treated numerous Muslims without incident, and says that women usually remove their veils voluntarily.
He was initially filled with fear & # 39; at the prospect of being transported to a disciplinary panel about this serious indictment.
& # 39; It is very difficult for someone outside the medical world to understand what this means for a doctor, & # 39; the 52-year-old told me, who for the first time told the full background of this confusing case.
& # 39; It is a threat of unimaginable proportions. These cases usually last about a year, during which one cannot get a local job because one is required to declare that one is being investigated, and no one will touch you while it is going on.
& # 39; So I knew my life would be on hold for months, and my 23-year career could be left in ruins. & # 39;
With a hollow smile, he added: & # 39; The documents contain an advisory folder. It offered free counseling. I tore it up and threw it in the trash can. I would rather have a rattle babysitter for my six year old daughter than be advised by the GMC. & # 39;
Dr. Wolverson's worries turned to anger and he decided to beat his reputation.
Stock photo: Dr. Wolverson's worries became furious and he decided to challenge the reputation of his name
& # 39; I thought: I'm not going to be a victim here. I can feel sorry for myself – or I can be that decent, honorable Englishman who stands and fights as I was brought up.
& # 39; I chose the last option to do justice to what was a huge miscarriage of justice for me. A bit like the character of an honorable and decent man who may never restore his career and professional reputation. & # 39;
Although friends and colleagues have advised him not to comment on his condition, Dr. Wolverson has ignored them, believing that publicity will promote his cause.
A fascinating eccentric man who swims in lakes – the colder the better, to feel the sting – and he repairs an old red letter box and a telephone booth in his backyard, bringing his story to the press.
Within a few days, more than 50,000 people had signed a petition on the change.org website, stating that by asking the mother to remove her veil, he acted in the best interest of her child and that there was no religious or racial discrimination.
& # 39; Our NHS is heavily understaffed and we cannot lose doctors & # 39 ;, he says. He argues that Dr. Wolverson's reputation and profession should be saved.
Unfortunately, although inevitable, some of the extreme right jumped on the bandwagon and endorsed the petition with regrettable remarks.
Yet the vast majority of GP supporters appear to be people with moderate views, furious that he is undergoing a career ruin for what they claim to prioritize the needs of the child over the cultural sensitivities of others.
I consciously use the word & # 39; cultural & # 39; instead of & # 39; religious & # 39 ;.
Because, like Dr. Amra Bone, the only female Sharia judge in Britain and a prominent Islamic scholar, told me that covering a man's face is not mandatory for Muslim women, according to the four major Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence (although some individual scholars recommend it) .
For some, it is rather a personal choice that, she says, must be respected. Dr. Bone believes that an investigation should be conducted into what happened to establish the truth and prevent recurrence of such incidents, and hopes that & # 39; we can offer cultural awareness to professionals so that we do not have to resort to punishment & # 39; .
For some, it is rather a personal choice that, she says, must be respected
Other Muslims will no doubt adopt a less conciliatory view. Because this is a deeply divided story that touches on the core of the ideological and cultural schism that runs through today's multi-ethnic England.
It is also an example of the delicate front-line professionals in the front who engage with the public – and this includes not only doctors but also the police, emergency services and teachers (witness the continuing suspension in Birmingham between Muslim parents and primary schools that focus on teach their children about sexual diversity).
Thirteen years have passed since Labor & Jack 39 caused a heated debate by revealing that he asked Muslim women to remove their veils during his weekly operation in Blackburn.
He did that because he felt uncomfortable about & # 39; face-to-face & # 39; to talk to someone he couldn't see.
A lifelong conservative voter, the political views of Dr. Wolverson is different from Straw's, but he makes similar points. The son of a railway engineer trained at the Royal Free Hospital in London and chose to become a general practitioner because he likes to make important, and sometimes life-saving, decisions.
He prefers to work as a freelance doctor because the flexible hours allow him to share the upbringing tasks for his children aged 15, 11 and 6 years old.
Since the veil complaint was filed last May, he has been dropped by Vocare, a health care agency based in Newcastle upon Tyne that he used to work for. This was without waiting for the GMC to determine the case.
Beyond saying that they were using a senior physician to thoroughly examine & # 39; every complaint from a patient & # 39 ;, Vocare refused to comment.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wolverson has earned a modest income by giving hay fever and joint pain injections to private clients and easing their wrinkles with Botox.
Given his ten years of training, it costs £ 230,000 in taxpayers and there is a chronic shortage of doctors, with vacancies in general practitioners posts with a record level of 6,000 full-time jobs, many think this is a criminal waste of resources.
Moreover, his sense of betrayal is so great that he is unlikely to return to the NHS, even if this is permitted after the GMC case has been closed.
By sweeping the GMC complaint documents, one written in such a poor & grammar that the word & # 39; veil & # 39; misspelled if & # 39; vail & # 39 ;, his memory of events comes into sharper focus.
He quotes his hero Winston Churchill and says: & someday I hope that: & # 39; We can cross over to broad, sun-drenched highlands & # 39; & # 39;
& # 39; I still remember the day because I had just played in a football game between parents and students at my son's school and I realized how old I was, & # 39; he smiles sadly. & # 39; I showered, changed and went to work in the hospital. It was around noon and I was on my way to my third or fourth patient. She came, her face completely veiled.
& # 39; Stoke is a culturally diverse area and I have never seen such patients stop. This was the first time I had to ask to remove it. They just do it normally. & # 39;
Could he not have referred the woman to a female doctor? No, he says, he was the only doctor on duty.
& # 39; So she sat down and said: & # 39; I'm here to talk about my daughter & # 39 ;, and of course it was muted. I said at that time: & # 39; Would you be so kind to remove the face veil? & # 39; Just a direct, polite question. It is not hard to say. & # 39;
Was there something rude about his tone? & # 39; No … it was about communication. I think it is very difficult to communicate appropriately and accurately if you cannot see the movements of the face. It is similar to asking a patient to remove a helmet. It's not about culture, it's about clarity. & # 39;
His ability to understand the woman was also affected, he says, because the mother spoke in English with an accent.
In the letter, the GMC says that this & # 39; clearly not the case & # 39; is based on telephone recordings of her voice during a conversation with hospital staff. But Dr. Wolverson answers, wondering how they know if she was wearing a veil during the phone call – or even that they were talking to the same woman he saw?
In any case, he says, after he asked her to remove her veil, the woman did so without complaints, after which & # 39; the communication was much better & # 39 ;. Diagnosing her daughter with a sore throat – probably tonsilitis – Dr. Wolverson prescribed penicillin and the seven-minute consultation ended.
About half an hour later, however, Dr. Wolverson claims that her husband has arrived at the clinic and an angry scene has arisen.
After he had sat near the doctor's office and according to Dr. Wolverson & # 39; imminent eye contact & # 39; with the doctor, the man who wore traditional Muslim clothes and seemed to be in his late thirties demanded to see the supervisor. The man in charge – a British-Asian who Dr. Wolverson to his & # 39; many & # 39; Muslim friends belonged – and his complaint was logged. & # 39; Mother and father are not happy with the (attitude of) doctors with regard to mother & # 39 ;, is the GMC account.
& # 39; Also not happy with the doctor's request to remove the vail (sic). She felt that she was the victim and racially discriminated against. Mother said she is trying to convince the doctor that this is my religion and she does not want to remove it. Mother said the doctor was adamant that he would not continue the consultation if she did not remove her vail, so mother removed vail like the daughter she wanted to see.
& # 39; Mother felt shocked, uncomfortable, not respected, anxious, angry and felt offended. Mother said the doctor was rude, gave her a dirty look, spoke rude and with a strong voice. Mother called her husband while she was shocked and cried … father claims that he was also rude to him. & # 39;
Dr. Wolverson does not know the identity of the couple, but believes that they lived in the Cobridge area of Stoke, where many Muslim families live.
This week, despite extensive inquiries, we could not find her. That is why we cannot comment further on this report, which is completely at odds with his own.
& # 39; There are some points I could make & he says. Because the woman had no trouble removing the veil, he thought her husband was the one behind the complaint. & # 39; The dice are loaded against doctors in these cases & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; That is not the way to social cohesion. We tolerate too much extremism, I fear, and don't challenge it.
& # 39; My Asian friends are very English. They have Stoke-on-Trent accents. They were born and hugged in Stoke. They are just as patriotic as I am. It shows you what you can achieve. & # 39;
Dr. Wolverson showed me messages of support he received from medical medical colleagues, including Asia Gazanfer, a paramedic he accompanied during his introduction.
& # 39; I am so sorry to hear what happened … if I can help you with a reference to a character, please contact & # 39 ;, he wrote.
Dr. Wolverson says he believed that the veil obstructed the possibility of a correct diagnosis. The couple seemed to put cultural values above the safety of their child.
Surprisingly, the GMC may not provide specific guidelines on how doctors should serve women who wear a veil in their heads – although medical personnel are required to remove them if a patient requests it.
However, in a statement it said: & Our guidance makes it clear that we expect patients' beliefs and the choice of religious clothing to be treated with respect. If, after exhausting all possible communication approaches, a doctor cannot provide safe care without seeing the face of a woman, they can sensitively examine whether she is willing to remove her face cover.
& # 39; Should this worry her, the doctor will have to continue with other communication channels. If a doctor follows this guidance and treats patients politely, fairly and with sensitivity, then they have nothing to fear from referring to the GMC. & # 39;
It promised a & # 39; impartial & # 39; research, adding: & # 39; Employers only refer cases to the GMC where a doctor's behavior or behavior raises serious concern about future patient care. & # 39;
In the interest of transparency, Dr. Wolverson says that he has had two other, totally unrelated complaints against him. They were made to NHS England, not to the GMC, and relate to his refusal to write sickness notes for patients he regarded as malingers.
These issues have yet to be resolved, but he claims they are examples of a doctor being prosecuted & # 39; for the ethical performance of its duties, and that modern culture causes immeasurable damage to the medical profession for every complaint under investigation.
Doctors are now so scared to be reported, he says, that some people prefer opiates, such as opiates, to unsubscribe people when they are healthy and tolerate patient abuse. It is also a reason why they are leaving the trade en masse, he says.
Because his wife is a doctor, Dr. Wolverson is reluctant to involve her in this. But he says the case has caused her enormous stress and embarrassment, and it has put considerable pressure on their marriage. He is not discouraged and intends to fight this & # 39; landmark case & # 39; as he calls it, every inch of the way.
& # 39; I enjoy the opportunity to show how draconian limitations of the GMC affect doctors' ability to practice in the 2019 NHS, & # 39; he says.
Quoting his hero Winston Churchill, he says: & # 39; One day I hope that: & # 39; We can move on to broad, sun-drenched highlands. & # 39;
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