Keith Wolverson is a primary care doctor at the Royal Stoke University Hospital in the English county of Staffordshire. Wolverson, 52, is being investigated after he asked the mother of one of his patients to take off the veil that she wore over her face. Wolverson says that he was just trying to hear her better. His critics call it an example of racial discrimination and say that Wolverson has a history of racism. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Woman Came in Seeking Medical Treatment for Her Five Year Old
In May 2018, a woman wearing a full face veil brought her five year old to see Dr Wolverson. He was working a shift in the Royal Stoke University Hospital’s walk-in clinic. The woman said that her child had a sore throat. Dr Wolverson says that he had trouble understanding what the woman said because her voice was “muffled” by her veil. That’s why, he says, he asked her to take off the veil. The woman did take off her veil. Later, she told her husband about the incident.
The woman’s husband came in to see Dr Wolverson, and the couple made a formal complaint to the hospital. The complaint charges that Wolverson was rude to both the child’s parents, and that he refused to treat the child unless the mother removed her veil: ‘Mother felt shocked, uncomfortable, disrespected, anxious, upset and felt insulted. Mother said doctor was rude, gave her dirty look, spoke rudely and in a firm toned voice. Mother rang her husband as she was shocked and crying … father claims he was rude to him also.’
Wolverson told the Telegraph that he wasn’t discriminating against the woman; he says that he asked her to take off her veil “for adequate communication, in the same way I’d ask a motorcyclist to remove a crash helmet.
2. Wolverson Has Been Practicing Medicine for 23 Years & Says He Doesn’t Want to Be a Doctor Any Longer
Wolverson, 52, is a native of Derby. He’s been practicing medicine for 23 years. He says that being accused of racism will “ruin” his career; he also told the Sun that he’s not sure he even wants to be a doctor any longer. Wolverson’s critics have said that he acted in an “offensive” way and that he should have called in a female doctor to help his patient, instead of insisting that she take her veil off in front of a man. But Wolverson insists that he was the only doctor on staff at that time, and says that he routinely treats veiled patients who take off their veils in his presence, without being prompted to.
3. Wolverson’s Wife Is a Doctor & He Says the Allegations Against Him Have Strained Their Marriage
Wolverson told the Daily Mail that he charges of racial discrimination against him have put a lot of strain on his marriage. Wolverson stressed that he didn’t want to get his wife involved in the case, but he did tell the Mail that she is a doctor too. Still, he says that from his point of view, the case against him is a “landmark” case and he wants to fight it as long as he can. “I’m relishing the opportunity to exhibit how draconian constraints from the GMC affect doctors’ ability to practise in the NHS of 2019,” he told the Mail.
He and his wife have three children, aged 15, 11 and 6. He says he works for the clinic because it gives him a flexible schedule so that he can spend plenty of time with his kids.
4. More Than 70,000 People Have Signed a Petition in Support of Wolverson
A petition on Change.org had gathered more than 72,000 supporters by May 26. The petition reads, in part,
” I would like to get as many people as possible to sign this petition and save this mans reputation. I believe he acted in the best interest of the child involved and their (sic) 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.”
5. Wolverson Votes Conservative & His Hero Is Winston Churchill — Some Say He Has a Racist Past
The Daily Mail describes Wolverson as a “lifelong conservative” whose hero is Winston Churchill. He grew up in Derby, the son of a railway engineer. He studied at the Royal Free Hospital in London.