Defiance or Compliance. Who Decides An NZ Doctor’s Conscience?

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NZDSOS members Dr Matt Shelton and Dr Peter Canaday feature in the pharma-sponsored doctor’s trade mag NZ Doctor. An Op Ed by Health and Disability Commission (HDC) deputy commissioner Cordelia Thomas published on July 11 continues to stir up fear of doctors having their own views, which she asserts may see their judgement and advice unduly influenced by their particular ethical principles, however well-considered.

The NZ Doctor article is behind a paywall for now. We believe it deserves a response as both doctors she criticises have seriously stymied attempts by the New Zealand Medical Council and her HDC to punish them for independent thinking. 

Ms Thomas acknowledges that doctors have a right  – but we say it’s a duty

… to take a stand if they feel patient well-being or safety is at risk from a particular treatment or procedure. She goes on to imply that all doctors’ views should be homogeneous, comprising a 100% consensus, or else the dissenting doctor is somehow flawed, if not dangerous. Then, in another seeming contradiction, she allows that some doctors can opt out of arranging abortions or assisted dying, as long as they refer the patient elsewhere for the service (notwithstanding that even a participation by referral may also violate the conscience of the doctors to whom she is referring).

Double Jeopardy

The article discusses the above-named doctors who, she implies, were criticised by a Judge in the Wellington District Court, cherry-picking a few provisos that Judge Stephen Harrop made when framing his findings. Thomas fails to admit that both doctors persuaded Judge Harrop to strike the MCNZ actions against them, with the judge particularly scathing in the Shelton case. Judge Harrop ordered that he be reinstated with no conditions on his license and stated that a line should be drawn through the Council’s suspension proceedings. However, MCNZ proposed to resuspend Dr Shelton almost immediately, likely knowing that his Annual Practice Certificate (APC) was about to lapse, and that reapplication could be made complicated and cumbersome. 

The timing of Thomas’s article is interesting in that her boss at the HDC, Morag McDowell, carried out her own investigation of Dr Shelton and found that he should be referred on several grounds to the Health Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT). This is the end-of-the-line body with the power to strike off a practitioner, and levy large fines. 

However, referrals to the Tribunal have to pass through a layer of legal ‘2nd opinion’ and, in this case, that opinion was that Dr Shelton’s actions did not warrant referral to the Tribunal. Presumably, this lawyer, known as the Director of Proceedings (DoP), did not feel a threshold of public danger was reached. 

We had our own view about the weakness of the HDC’s accusations against Dr Shelton from the start, framed grimly around the ragged defense of the ‘safe and effective’ narrative, and attacking those who commit the ‘crime’ of “encouraging vaccine hesitancy”. It is still entirely possible that the Medical Council itself will refer Dr Shelton to the HPDT, once his Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) assessment has ground to its conclusion and brought ‘charges’. We note too that HDC is still hosting McDowell’s criticism of Dr Shelton on its website. We ask if it shouldn’t be removed since their case has effectively failed?

Challenging the ‘Narrative’ is Not Allowed

Challenging the ‘safe and effective’ narrative is how Dr Canaday ended up appearing before the HPDT, via the Medical Council’s supposedly ‘arms-length’ investigatory PCC. Both the PCC’s lawyer and their expert produced no evidence at all to prove that Peter had peddled ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’, as the MCNZ had claimed.

In fact, in a spectacular break from the usual timetable of these things, and with a sucker-punch to fairness and natural justice, over 12 weeks have passed since the proceedings and the Tribunal is still unable or unwilling to release its verdict! Usually, this is delivered on the last day of the hearing itself, somewhat later in more complex cases, but here it is nowhere within the Tribunal chair’s stated timeline of ‘within a month’.

This is quite astounding and particularly irksome for such a high-profile case that is pivotal to the preservation of freedom of speech in New Zealand…

…We wonder if they hope to get away with delivering no judgement at all. 

Dr Canaday makes the following penetrating observations of the Thomas’ NZ Doctor article:

‘Simply, the writer omits that Judge Harrop found that the interim suspension was not a “fair”, or “proportionate” response to the Council’s concerns and ordered that the suspension be lifted. It was also notable that Judge Harrop, in the early part of his written decision, acknowledged that he could not opine on the matter of whether I was correct in the science or not, as he had neither the qualifications nor the expertise to do so.

Then, toward the final pages of his decision, he did just that and opined that there was “… indisputable evidence that those who are not vaccinated are more likely to spread the disease and more likely to suffer more serious consequences themselves,” something we knew from published science to be untrue at that time.

‘MCNZ never offered any evidence that what I said was wrong when deciding to suspend my APC, as was clear by the time of the District Court case in February 2022. More than a year later, at the HPDT hearing in April 2023, the PCC charges and the excerpts from my presentations offered as evidence now asserted that my statements were “… misleading or had the potential to mislead”, “… bringing or likely to bring discredit to the medical profession” and “… disparaging or had the potential to encourage unprofessional criticism of other health practitioners”, still without rebuttal of anything I said as scientifically incorrect.

‘Cordelia Thomas talks about the District Court decision as though it had anything to do with proving falsehoods or even that it was bad to criticise the vaccine program, when this was never a subject at the Appeals hearing. She also quotes my reference to “the actual science” asserting that my views based on it differed from a known “… majority view about the COVID-19 vaccine response.” This conclusion still begs the question of whether the majority view was correct. But, in truth, the Government never overtly discussed “the science” at all.

‘We made a point during the Tribunal that the initial complaint to the HDC about my Gisborne talk in August 2021 was rejected by the HDC – public speaking they said is not the practice of medicine, even though the PCC claimed that it was. In my case, there was never any doctor-patient relationship, but only the act of public speaking.

‘Ms Thomas also ignores the fact that the Ardern Government knew at the time that the jab was not known to be safe and effective, that they had been advised by Medsafe that it had not been proven so, that the Government couldn’t mandate it without violating human rights and that the Ministry of Justice had warned them not to do so. They did it anyway. They knew at the time. We didn’t know for certain how much they knew at the time of the District Court hearing, but we suspected they did know. Now we know they knew, but this couldn’t be brought up in my case until the Tribunal.’

It’s all reminiscent of one of Alexander Solzhenitsym’s epic quotes about life in the Soviet Union:

We know they are lying.
They know they are lying.
They know that we know they are lying.
We know that they know we know they are lying.
And still, they continue to lie.

Thank you, Peter. We will miss you, as you move to work in a place that will value your skills and vast experience. 

Bill, a NZDSOS supporter writes: “Here’s a verbatim quote from the General Manager of a Chinese factory in Harbin, part of their state system that shows where things eventually devolve to:

“We know that they are lying to us, and they know that we are lying to them; in fact, everyone knows that everyone is lying to everyone else. So you might say that the system is working just as it is supposed to.”

I don’t think this man had read Solzhenitsyn.  To those in the Marxist system that’s not a problem–that’s just the way things are.  As Krishnamurti put it, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

NZ Doctor Magazine in the Profession

NZDSOS thinks that our piece should be published by NZ Doctor magazine as a right of reply, and in the interests of seeking the truth through honest criticism and dialogue. However, we doubt this will happen in view of the significant advertising revenue NZ Doctor receives from Pfizer and other drug companies.

Also, Dr Shelton gave an extensive interview to an NZ Doctor journalist last year which was pulled at the last minute by the editor, who previously had no problem hosting the threatening comments made by Dr Curtis Walker and the HDC’s McDowell against doctors challenging the infamous Guidance Statement. This is only guidance and without the more lawful standing of an actual standard, that at least undergoes some internal discussion, review, and perhaps participation of the larger doctor constituency.

In addition, despite being ‘always on the lookout for wide and varied opinions‘, NZ Doctor did not publish a 900-word piece we sent, detailing the story of what has really happened with Ivermectin, and the effects that disallowing its use in New Zealand has had.

Business is business, we suppose, but then doctors, the MCNZ and the HDC are supposed to be in the business of protecting their patients and the public. They are not supposed to be in the business of promoting the pharmaceutical industry and following political dogma.

What’s At Stake?

We suggest most New Zealanders would be horrified to have access only to a homogeneous, 100% ‘consensus’ state-sanctioned medicine, and most doctors do not want to be thought of as automatons, ticking boxes. It may be true that ‘No doctor is an island,’ but it’s much more important that ‘No doctor should be a sheep’ as well.

Our years of education, training and experience have given us a wide scope of abilities to analyse the health issues of our patients, to think creatively about the unique individual patient before us, and to depart from ‘cookie-cutter’ directives, and especially so where those originate from public health authorities with limited or no clinical experience ‘in the trenches.’

We call on NZ Doctor magazine to support doctors,

…especially in taking a stand ‘if they feel patient well-being or safety is at risk’, as we have felt it has been for many during the last several years. Let the reading audience know that there can be well-reasoned alternative points of view.

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