Kate Hawkesby: Doctors should be able to have an opinion on Covid vaccine

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Jun 2021, 8:41AM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Kate Hawkesby: Doctors should be able to have an opinion on Covid vaccine

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Jun 2021, 8:41AM

I see the Medical Council are saying it’ll sack any doctor spreading misinformation about the Covid vaccine.

According to the Council, doctors have “an ethical and professional obligation to protect and promote the health of patients and the public, and to participate in broader-based community health efforts”, according to one report.

The Council says there’s a "mountain of evidence to show how safe the vaccine is" and that "doctors opinions on health carry extra weight.." and that therefore they "have a professional duty to provide advice based on evidence,” it’s been reported.

So what’s going on here exactly? What’s defined as ‘misinformation’? If it’s purely a medical professional’s opinion, then is that in fact ‘misleading’ or just a personal opinion?

If it’s intentional malicious misinformation designed to create fear and purely scaremonger, then of course it’s a problem.

But if it’s medical professionals purely expressing their opinion, albeit a controversial one, then is that a sackable offence?

I saw a medical professional recently who told me he personally won't be having the vaccine. Now that’s his opinion, based on his own scientific beliefs. The fact he’s telling me that, does not make him a problematic peddler of mistruths, it just makes him a guy with an opinion. But he is a medical professional so should he therefore keep his opinion to himself?

Are we more likely to be swayed by views if they come from a medical professional?

Well that's the Council’s argument. But surely that’s up to the individual. If it's not specific medical advice for us, can we brush it off?

Or have they over-stepped in sharing that opinion with us?

The Medical Council believes there should be unification in the medical world’s messaging.

But that’s lumping all medical professionals into one basket, and saying they all have to think the same, preach the same.

Which takes away their individual right to be honest about their own opinion.

I actually respect the fact that not all medical professionals are the same.

It makes you think, it engages you to consider perspectives, to hear both sides of an argument.

Surely it's more suspect when only one side of an argument ever gets pushed?

Don't we need to consider things from all angles and all points of view?

Does the fact you hear something from a medical professional, make you more inclined to adopt that view?

Should they have opinions, but just not be allowed to express them?

And if that’s the case, where do you draw the line on what they can and can’t say?