Adding fuel to the already raging controversy in Britain, Birmingham city hospitals have banned Muslim medicos from donning full-face veils.
Birmingham University School of Medicine has passed this ban on wearing of a full-face veil by Muslim women in an attempt to "help to aid good communications" between Muslim medical students, their colleagues and patients.
AdvertisementThe University will allow Islamic women to cover their faces in lectures and around campus but would not be permitted to do so in the "clinical environments" of hospital buildings and GPs' surgeries. Only in the sterile surroundings of an operating theatre can they cover their faces - with regulation surgical masks.
The ban extends to women Muslim students who has been required to show their faces if they are talking to patients in hospital or surgery or if they are in meetings with other medical staff.
Presently the school has 450 students of all faiths who are sent to practise to a number of different hospitals and primary care units, including the University Hospital of Birmingham NHS Trust.
Birmingham has a large population of Muslims of South Asian origin.
A spokesman said, "We do not place restrictions on the wearing of headscarves by staff or students, except in cases where they are required to work in a clinical environment."
"This is particularly the case when it involves direct contact with patients. In these cases students are allowed to wear a headdress as part of their religious observance, as long as it does not cover the face."
"This is necessary to help aid communications with patients and other colleagues," the spokesman said.
This move comes close on the heels of a nationwide debate over wearing of veil that was sparked by Commons Leader Jack Straw's comments that he asks Muslim women to remove their veils when they visit his constituency office in Blackburn, northwest England.
According to him the veil made community relations "difficult" and removing it would improve communication.
Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, whose constituency is in Birmingham, said "We have to consider the safety and security of all, as there is times when people must be identified."
He added, "Removal is fine where professional issues are called into question, when doctors and nurses meet with patients."
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