Murupara's GP of 30 years standing, Dr Bernard Conlon, is to be suspended from practising medicine as of Friday.
Local Democracy Reporting reported two weeks ago that Dr Conlon had been informed by the Medical Council of New Zealand that it intended to suspend him.
Yesterday, Dr Conlon told the Whakatane Beacon the council had informed him his practising certificate would be suspended from February 4 pending an investigation. He said he would be instructing his legal team to challenge the decision in court.
"To take me out of practice after three decades of dedicated service to my community is frankly difficult to comprehend, especially with winter coming and Covid-19 at our gates," he said.
"It is disappointing and frustrating to fathom how a regulatory body can take this action whilst declaring that it prioritises the safety of the New Zealand public.
"So far, Murupara has had eight positive cases of Covid-19 and the surgery is pleased that they all have recovered without complication or needing hospitalisation."
Dr Conlon and his wife, Dr Britta Noske, who is also one of his practice's GPs, have been treating patients through Telehealth services since November 15, when the vaccination order for health practitioners came into force. Four other staff members at the practice are unvaccinated.
"The reduction in service under the Covid-19 order is impossible to justify in a sane world," Dr Conlon said.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board planning and funding acting general manager Mike Agnew said the health board had been working with Rotorua Area Primary Health Services Organisation and Murupara Medical to develop a mixed model of care involving GPs working virtually, and other GPs working face-to-face with patients.
"There are two other GPs working at the practice who will continue to see patients face-to-face plus a number of nurses as well. The practice has been recruiting additional clinical staff since late last year to replace staff impacted by the compulsory vaccine order.
The impact of any suspension notice on the sustainability of the current model of care will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.
The reasons for the Medical Council investigation into Dr Conlon is that he has been outspoken about people's rights to "informed consent" in regard to vaccines. He refers to the Pfizer vaccine as the "Covid-19 gene vaccine" and says he considers the standard of information given to patients as "negligent".
In December, Dr Conlon also filed a case in the Rotorua District Court over Medsafe's seizure of a shipment of Ivermectin he had ordered from overseas.
"I also continue to spend countless hours researching alternative treatments," he said.
"For 30 years, I have practised successfully as a rural GP and as such, I do my own due diligence on the management of a wide range of patient health problems. Early treatment protocols for Covid-19 are a game-changer, with a reduction in deaths by upwards of 85 per cent.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said vaccination was the number one protection against Covid-19.
"The ministry would also like to remind anyone who hasn't been vaccinated, to go out and get a vaccine now. It's safe, will reduce your risk of getting seriously ill, and could save your life.
"For humans, Ivermectin is approved in very specific doses to treat a limited number of conditions. Ivermectin is not approved in New Zealand to treat Covid-19, there is no clear evidence that it is effective to treat or prevent Covid-19, and it may cause serious harm. When ingested in high doses, Ivermectin can have serious effects on humans including low blood pressure, worsening asthma, seizures and liver damage."
The Ministry of Health strongly recommended the public do not buy or attempt to treat themselves with Ivermectin for Covid-19.
"While prescribers have a right, under section 25 of the Medicines Act 1981, to prescribe any medicine for a patient under their care, the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights places obligations on prescribers to ensure that all treatment meets ethical and professional standards.
"In prescribing an unapproved medicine or an approved medicine for an unapproved purpose, a prescriber must consider these requirements and should ensure a process of informed consent with the patient is carried out.
"Medsafe has published a warning about the use of Ivermectin as have several overseas regulators and it would be expected that a prescriber would consider the warning in a decision to prescribe ivermectin for an unapproved purpose.
"It's important people hear from trustworthy voices about Covid-19 and know where to go to find reliable, science-based information on its related topics, such as the Covid-19 vaccine. The most accurate sources of Covid-19 information in New Zealand are the Ministry of Health, Unite Against Covid-19, and district health boards. Our collective focus is on providing clear, consistent access to transparent and trusted information."
A spokesperson for the Medical Council of New Zealand said due to privacy concerns they were unable to comment on Dr Conlon's case.
- by Diane McCarthy, Local Democracy Reporter