FRONTLINE hospital staff in Worcester are not allowed to wear veils while treating patients.
There is currently no national guidance on uniform policies for the 160 NHS trusts in England, with decisions left down to the discretion of local managers.
But at a time of increased public debate over Muslim head-dress, the government has ordered a review of all health service policies on workers’ uniforms.
Reports this week have revealed that at least 17 hospital trusts have already banned staff from wearing veils when in contact with patients.
And your Worcester News can reveal that Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital, does not allow its doctors and nurses to interact with patients with their faces covered.
The trust’s uniform policy does allow for “navy blue or black head coverings, turbans or skull caps”, which may be worn for religious reasons.
Regulations also state that head garments must be clean and changed daily and must be secured without any loose ends.
A spokesman for the trust said: “We don’t allow staff in contact with patients to wear veils but we do allow them to cover their heads.”
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter has ordered the review of uniform policies.
He said: “Being unable to see a health care professional’s face can be a barrier to good and empathetic communication with patients and their families. That is why I am writing to all health care regulators to ask them to look into this matter and to review their professional regulations, to ensure that there is always appropriate face to face contact between health care professionals and their patients.”