Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hewitt says ‘Muslim GPs breach confidentiality’

Healthcare Republic, part of Haymarket Medical Media, has a news item from Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Mrs Hewitt was speaking to the Fabian Society in London last week and told the audience:

Some women patients in some Muslim communities are feeling they can’t trust their own GP who is from the same community and knows their extended family.
If they go for particular situations, such as a sexual health problem or domestic violence, they fear they will share that information with other members of the family or community.

It is obviously hard to judge whether this is a problem solely in the Muslim community or not. Chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain’s health committee Dr Abdullahi Shehu told the website that, "reluctance to talk about sensitive issues with members of your own community is human nature; it’s not purely applicable to Muslims."

The Department of Health said that Mrs Hewitt had simply "recounted evidence from the Muslim Women’s Network on Health".

The fact that Muslim GPs were singled out implies that there had been no similar allegations from other faith groups. I don't buy into the inevitable claims that Muslims are being targeted by New Labour. If this was a problem in many close-knit communities Mrs Hewitt would have said so.

If what the Health Secretary has said is true then it indicates that there is a general feeling within the Muslim community that community comes before country which would be cause for concern. Nevertheless, no-one should get too worked up about this as these are, as yet, allegations and would only be anecdotal in any case.