71-year old Sikh stroke victim has facial hair illegally removed in hospital in PMs constituency without any clinical reasoning

71-year old Sikh stroke victim has facial hair illegally removed in hospital in PMs constituency without any clinical reasoning

London – 4 October 2021

A family living in Southall is furious with staff at Hillingdon Hospital after a 71 year old Sikh who had a stroke and was unable to speak had his moustache and beard cut without obtaining his permission or seeking the consent of his family. Staff subsequently tried to hide their actions from his family. The 71-year old being a Sikh is not permitted to cut any of his hair and this would have been well known to staff at Hillingdon Hospital given the local demographics and high proportion of Sikhs living and working at the hospital. Hillingdon Hospital is in Boris Johnson’s constituency and has a reputation for poor health care.

His daughter last week during a video call noticed her father was unusually wearing a normal mask and was told this was because of Covid. In a follow up video call the next day nurses would only show the eyes of the 71-year old.

A complaint was made the following day to the Ward Manager and a video call showing his full face was permitted. His family members were shocked to note their father’s moustache and beard had been trimmed by staff and they offered no clinical reasoning for cutting his facial hair.

The family met the Ward Manager early the next day and they were only given a verbal apology knowing what they had done to comprise Mr Singh’s faith was a major mistake and unforgiveable. Staff at the hospital have declined to provide a written apology and stopped the family from having all video calls.

The 71-year old’s daughter has now reached out to the Sikh Federation (UK) who has written to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and his Labour counterpart Jon Ashworth. Both have large numbers of Sikh constituents and will be appalled to learn of the incident.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has also written to Patricia Wright, the Chief Executive of Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust demanding answers. Why was the hair cut unnecessarily of the 71-year old stroke victim, why was consent from his family not obtained given his mental capacity following his stroke, why was there an attempted cover up of his abuse and why has a written apology to the family not been forthcoming.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has called for a full investigation on how the incident took place, what disciplinary action will be taken against those named in the medical records and the lessons learnt to prevent a similar incident happening in the future. The family has been advised it may sue Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for failing to observe the law that protects patients from such abuse.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “It is impossible to describe in words the impact on a Sikh of his hair being removed without consent and with no clinical reasoning. This is a gross violation of the patients’ human rights and his right to practice his faith for which heads must roll.

“We can only imagine the trauma of this outrageous act on the mental well-being of the 71-year old stroke victim who has already been suffering for over 6 weeks.

“His family are deeply upset by the actions of staff at Hillingdon Hospital who firstly completely disrespected their father’s faith followed by an attempted cover up that makes the situation even worse.

See image below that is being shared by the Sikh Federation (UK) with the permission of Mr Singh’s daughter. Mr Singh’s full name has been withheld and his face blurred to protect his identity given the sensitivity of the matter.

ENDS Harnek Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)

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