At least 17 NHS hospitals have banned front line staff from wearing the veil, The Telegraph has learned, as ministers called for new guidelines to ensure all patients can have "face to face" contact with those who care for them.
The Government has ordered a review of all health service policies on workers' uniforms. It will ask professional regulators to draw up clear rules so that communication with patients is always given priority over the right of a nurse or doctor to wear a veil.
It follows indications from David Cameron that he would support public sector bodies wishing to ban staff from covering their faces. MPs have called for a national debate on the issue.