Anti-lockdown doc: The medical council are closing me down

Another day, another one of these:

A Dublin GP says he has decided to close his practice after being threatened with suspension by the Medical Council over his anti-lockdown and anti-mask views on Covid-19.

Dr Marcus de Brun said he decided to end his HSE contract and to step back from public speaking “under duress”, in order to avoid being struck off.

Dr de Brun was a member of the Medical Council until last April, when he resigned over what he felt were failures to protect nursing home residents earlier in the pandemic.

He is the third doctor to come under pressure after expressing anti-lockdown views. Dr Martin Feeley resigned as clinical director of Dublin Midlands Hospital Group last month after advocating the shielding of vulnerable groups and the lifting of general restrictions. Limerick GP Pat Morrissey was this week removed as chairman of ShannonDoc after criticising the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and saying he treats patients with hydroxychloroquine against official guidelines…..

……the council was “very concerned that you might continue to engage in events and public statements” which would undermine the State’s public health guidelines and was considering what further steps it may take, “to include considering its powers under Section 60 Medical Practitioners Act 2007”.

That last bit there gives the game away. De Brun is being threatened with suspension not because he disagrees with the lockdown and the facemask mandate, necessarily, but because he kept attending public events saying “I’m a doctor and I don’t agree with the lockdown or the facemask mandate”.

DeBrun, by the way, isn’t some sort of kook. Or at least, nobody thought he was until very recently. This is from April:

The GP has run the Rush Family Practice in Co Dublin since 2010. He is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He also holds a degree in microbiology.

The doctor was appointed by Health Minister Simon Harris to the board of the Medical Council two years ago after being nominated by GPs for the role. 

Two years ago, his fellow doctors think he should be on the medical council. Today? They think he’s too dangerous to practice. Is this about his medical abilities, or about his dissent from them on the public guidelines? The answer, to be fair, is fairly obvious.

And are the state’s public health guidelines wrong? That’s sort of besides the point. The point, surely, is that the state’s public health guidelines are both burdensome and restrictive, and not only in terms of masks. There are lots of businesses who, through no fault of their own, simply may not survive them.

The question then is this: If you are a medic, or an expert, and you disagree with the medicine behind the public health guidelines, do you shut up and pull on the green jersey, or do you speak out?

It would be one thing if the state’s public health guidelines had no particular impact on people’s lives, but that’s not the case in this situation. Even the most ardent proponents of the lockdown concede that it’s likely to have a deleterious impact on the economy, mental health, and general wellbeing. They contend that it’s necessary and worth it.

But if you’ve come to the conclusion, as a doctor, that it’s neither necessary, nor worth it, then don’t you actually have a moral duty to say so?

And what’s more: If the medical council are threatening DeBrun with proceedings for being a doctor and publicly undermining NPHET, does that not bode badly for one Doctor Leo Varadkar, who, this week, became the most public critic of NPHET’s public health advice?

What’s the substantive difference between Doctor Varadkar decrying NPHET’s restrictions as “not thought through” in front of a telly audience of half a million and Doctor DeBrun telling a crowd of five hundred that he thinks the facemask mandate is silly?

The difference, if we’re honest, is that Doctor DeBrun is a small fly, and he can be swatted. Varadkar is the Tánaiste, so the most they can do about him is provide snarky anonymous quotes to the media.

The question as to whether Doctor DeBrun is right, ultimately, is neither here, nor there. The country is engaged in one of the most controversial and economically damaging projects in its history. There are those who, very convincingly, say that it must be done. But those who say that it should not be done, and that the medical evidence does not support it, deserve a platform, and a right to speak, that is equally as large.

The fact that the people who support the lockdown are so eager to shut up doctors who disagree with them is not a good sign.

After all, as we asked the other day – if every doctor who speaks out like this gets squashed, then how do we know the others are genuine? Is your local GP in favour of the Government, or are they just in favour of not being disciplined by the medical council?

The whole thing’s a joke.

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