Female Muslim doctors must be prepared to remove their face veils to treat patients effectively, under new guidelines issued in the UK, press reports said on Tuesday.
"Some patients…may find that a face veil worn by their doctor presents an obstacle to effective communication and the development of trust," says a guideline issued by the General Medical Council, according to British daily The Telegraph.
"You must be prepared to respond to a patient's individual needs and take steps to anticipate and overcome any perceived barrier to communication," adds the document, entitled Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice.
Doctors should also be prepared to set aside personal and cultural preferences, and cannot refuse to care for patients because they object to certain procedures, such as abortion or blood transfusions in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Muslim Council of Great Britain told the Telegraph that it supports the GMC guidance, saying that female Muslim doctors have a responsibility to put patient care first.
Dr. Abdullah Shehu, the chairman of the Muslim Council's medical committee, said: "While wearing a veil does not preclude someone from practicing medicine, there is no harm in removing it where the ability to communicate or care for the patient is compromised. The Muslim community very much welcomes this guidance."
Muslim doctors can wear the hijab, which covers the head, but not the full face veil.