SunLive         

Drs spreading Covid misinformation may lose job

File image/SunLive.

The Medical Council is warning doctors spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccination rollout that it could cost them their jobs.

Medical Council chair Dr Curtis Walker says a small number of doctors were peddling conspiracies.

"It's questioning the severity of Covid, it's questioning the safety of vaccination, it's questioning whether the whole thing is a conspiracy theory.

"You know you name it, this is what's been put out there."

The council has received 13 complaints about medical staff from the public this year - although that included instances of multiple complaints about the same doctor.

It comes after it was reported last month that dozens of health professions, including GPs, signed an open letter opposing the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr Walker says an independent body is investigating to decide if charges should be laid with the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Doctors have a professional duty to provide advice based on evidence, he says.

"There's a mountain of evidence out there of how effective and safe the Covid vaccine is.

"And we've already seen the alternative of unvaccinated populations where millions have died."

Medical Council chair Dr Curtis Walker says any doctors found to be spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine could potentially lose their job. Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown.

Dr Walker says doctors are particularly respected members of the community and their opinions about health carry extra weight.

Any found spreading misinformation could potentially lose their jobs and the right to practice medicine.

Royal College of General Practitioners president Dr Samantha Murton says while people can choose not to get vaccinated there are serious consequences if the virus breached the borders.

"If those vulnerable people are being given misinformation, they may choose to do something that's really detrimental to their health.

"What worries me the most is the poorer people, the people who are at higher risk. If they're getting this ... misinformation then it's potentially putting their lives in jeopardy."

Kate Hannah, who researches misinformation at the University of Auckland, says anyone could be sucked in - including highly educated people such as doctors.

Most misinformation originated overseas - with people here adapting it to target particular demographics, she says.

"And in doing so it targets people's lived experiences of things like racism in the health system or racism more broadly, or say women's experiences of the health system where they may have experiences of previously not being listened to."

Ways to spot misinformation includes if someone is trying to sell you something; is asking for donations; or the information is presented to elicit an emotional reaction.

"If it's written in a way that makes you feel upset or scared, or nervous or fearful, you know that's not normally how we convey good quality public health information.

"Good quality public health information should provide you with information and make you feel reassured and calm and like you can make good decisions."

Other red flags include asking for personal information or to sign up to receive regular updates - ways to separate you from your current community or sources of information, Hannah says.

Covid conspiracies can act as a gateway, exposing people to online communities espousing far right ideology, misogyny, racism and transphobia, she says.

People with concerns about their doctor can contact the Medical Council; and general Covid-19 misinformation or scams can be reported to CERT NZ's website.

RNZ.

More on SunLive...
5 Comments
You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now

What kind of Democratic country...

Posted on 22-06-2021 16:57 | By morepork

...will strike Doctors off for having a different opinion, or not toeing the Party Line? I believe the evidence and will have the vaccination when my turn comes, but if my Doctor disagreed I would discuss it with her and then make my own decision. People have a right to an opinion, whether it is popular or not. I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. We are being manipulated by PC and woke doctrines where anything that offends anybody is "hate speech". There is no discussion, or argument, one side simply shouts down the other. We are not taught to think for ourselves; we are taught that Nanny knows best. Instead of settling issues by reasoned debate with solid evidence, it’s just "do as you are told" or else... "Tikanga think" ; Do what the Rangatira says.

Academic

Posted on 22-06-2021 09:05 | By

What sort of person equates covid debate as racism and transphobia ? This is someone who is getting paid by govt via grants to hit key talking points. Far right ideology, are you kidding me.

Advice Based on Evidence

Posted on 22-06-2021 06:54 | By beefhooked

And where is the Medical Councils Evidence on this new vaccination? Are the Doctors spreading misinformation or are they voicing their opinions because of their medical training? There are many medical professionals around the globe with the same objections so I would hardly call these "conspiracies" just because they have a different point of view.

Harsh Tactics

Posted on 21-06-2021 23:19 | By

I didn’t know that alternative opinions could be classed as misinformation, It’s almost like the Governments view is the only one allowed and woe be told any Doctor who questions it

Leftist propaganda…

Posted on 21-06-2021 22:27 | By Lyrch

If you disagree with our rhetoric at the very least you will be labelled, quote “Covid conspiracies can act as a gateway, exposing people to online communities espousing far right ideology, misogyny, racism and transphobia” unquote. Or in this case, threatened with losing your job! Isn’t there two sides to every debate/story?! I’m finding that it’s increasing difficult to get the other sides opinion so I can make an informed decision, I regard this particular article as misinformation and agree with the doctors who disagree with the status quo.