A hospital has suspended a consultant after he claimed that a Muslim surgeon walked out of an operation because she was asked to remove her religious headscarf.
Dr Vladislav Rogozov, 46, claimed in an online blog that he confronted her before the surgery when he realised she planned to wear the Islamic hijab which was against safety regulations.
But the unnamed surgeon refused, walking out of the operation and forcing staff at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital to find a replacement.
She later accused Czech-born Dr Rogozov, who has worked in Britain for ten years, of racial discrimination.
After a hospital investigation supported the consultant in his enforcement of the dress code, the Muslim surgeon left the hospital.
Religious headscarfs are ‘excluded in areas such as theatre, where they could present a health and cross-infection hazard’, according to the strict dress code.
At the time, the incident was not made public.
But Dr Rogozov, a consultant anaesthetist, was suspended last month for revealing details of the incident, which happened in 2013, as well as other surgeons’ more recent behaviour in an interview with an Internet blog.
He said: ‘I came into the operating room, where I met the surgeon, a woman shrouded in a Muslim headscarf. I immediately stopped the operation of the hall and asked her to put down her scarf and replace it with the prescribed headgear.
‘After a long discussion held with respect, decency and factual arguments, the surgeon refused and left the operating room. We managed to subsequently find another surgeon who performed the operation.
‘After the end of the operating day other members of the surgical team came to me (in a low voice and with the door closed) to share their concerns about the threat to patient safety.’
Dr Rogozov claimed colleagues had long-standing concerns but added ‘no one dared to highlight this issue because they feared being accused of racism or intolerance’.
Dr Rogozov also spoke of an incident where a male doctor recited extracts from the Koran during surgery, and claimed Muslim staff took prayer breaks during operations.
Writing in a blog post on a Czech website, he added: ‘If the medics in a developed country are afraid to draw attention to threats to patient safety because of accusations of racism, then it is an example of the absurdity of multiculturalism.’
A source last night told The Sun: ‘Dr Rogozov won’t tolerate anything that puts patients at risk. It has nothing to do with the medics being Muslims. It’s his fear they let their beliefs come before the patients.’
An inquiry is now ongoing after Dr Rogozov’s comments were printed on the Czech website and in a Slovakian newspaper.
The NHS is also investigating the allegations.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ spokesman Dr David Throssell said: ‘The member of staff has not been excluded from work for raising patient safety issues as we take these very seriously.
‘However since the publication of articles, attributed to the member of staff, we have received concerns about the tone he has used.
‘On this basis the content and nature of the views published are currently being investigated.’
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the UK’s largest NHS Foundation Trust, running five hospitals in the city.
Last May Dr Rogozov spoke of how his father, a Russian surgeon, was forced to cut out his own appendix during a Soviet expedition to the Antarctic in 1961.
Leonid Rogozov was 27 at the time of the famous case of self-surgery and was part of a team of 12 sent to build a new base at the Schirmacher Oasis.
His son said: ‘Being a surgeon, he had no difficulty in diagnosing acute appendicitis. It was a condition he’d operated on many times, and in the civilised world it’s a routine operation.
‘But unfortunately he didn’t find himself in the civilised world – instead he was in the middle of a polar wasteland.’
Dr Rogozov went on: ‘He was confronted with a very difficult situation of life and death. He could wait for no help, or make an attempt to operate on himself.
‘He had to open his own abdomen to take his intestines out. He didn’t know if that was humanly possible.
‘He was so systematic he even instructed them what to do if he was losing consciousness – how to inject him with adrenalin and perform artificial ventilation. I don’t think his preparation could have been better.’