Bradford hospitals trust banned frontline staff wearing veils four years ago (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford hospitals trust banned frontline staff wearing veils four years ago
7:00am Friday 20th September 2013 in News
A ban on frontline staff wearing full veils has been in place at Bradford hospitals for four years, the trust which runs them has revealed.
The announcement has come as Health Minister Dan Poulter started a review into health service guidelines on full-face veils to ensure patients always have “appropriate face-to-face contact”.
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s, said it had “consulted widely” before implementing the ban in 2009 and it had not been an issue either before and after.
Chief Nurse Juliette Greenwood said: “Bradford Teaching Hospitals consulted widely with various religious organisations, including our own multi-faith chaplaincy team, when formulating our policy in 2009. When the policy was reviewed last year, we again considered its appropriateness in light of advice from key colleagues.
“Patients consistently tell us how important good, two-way communication is for them and this is particularly vital for those people with additional needs who rely on visual cues to assist understanding.
“We believe that seeing someone’s face when communicating information to patients is therefore an effective and important part of healthcare.”
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract, and Dewsbury and District hospitals, introduced a similar ban last year.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said if he was a patient he would want to see his doctor or nurse’s face.
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 yesterday: “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.”
Later, he told BBC Breakfast: “I think it is very important that patients do get proper contact with the doctors and nurses who are looking after them.
“Certainly if I was a patient myself, I’d want to be able to see the face of the doctor or nurse who was treating me.
“But I think this is a matter for the professional standards bodies, which is why one of my ministers has written to the GMC (General Medical Council), that regulates the standards for doctors.”
Dr Poulter has ordered a review of current advice and asked regulators to devise new uniform rules.
Bradford Hospitals Trust is one of 17 NHS trusts where bans on staff wearing the full-face veil when dealing with patients has already been introduced.
Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted it is for women to “make a choice” about what clothes they wear, including veils, but said there will be some circumstances when it will be necessary to ask for them to be removed.
Earlier this week a judge ruled that a Muslim woman would be allowed to stand trial while wearing a full-face veil but must remove it while giving evidence.