medical worker

Freedom of Speech for the Medical Profession is Under Threat in Australia

4 August 2022

4.9 MINS

Medical practitioners and healthcare workers are under pressure to conform to the government narrative on public health, especially regarding COVID-19 vaccination. Their freedom of conscience and freedom of speech have been heavily compromised, affecting standards of care for patients.

No one wants to believe that they have been misled by people in positions of trust.

This is especially true when politicians, health bureaucrats, and regulatory bodies have forced compliance to medical mandates rather than leaving risk as a matter of personal choice. There is growing evidence from around the world that information has been withheld from public view and that doctors have been pressured out of questioning policy and data related to the pandemic.

In 1633, the authorities tried and condemned Galileo Galilei to house arrest, until his death in 1642, for publishing evidence that the planets revolved around the sun. They tried to silence open scientific debate. Ultimately, it didn’t work but did create a lot of suffering and misery for a few brave scientists in the meantime.

This kind of behaviour by powerful bodies is not confined to the past.

Banding Together

The newly formed Australian Medical Professionals Society (AMPS), operating as an alternative to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), is standing up for medical transparency, to protect our patients, and ensure open scientific debate.

Our AMPS members are refusing to be silent, even under threats to our registrations. We are fighting for law reform to provide our patients with evidence-based care rather than uncritical politically driven health practice.

Censored

Does the Australian public know that the government regulator, AHPRA, has warned health professionals, including doctors and nurses, not to publicly question government public health directives, including those related to Covid — effectively gagging them? This is done by threatening their registration.

Many have been disciplined or suspended for challenging the public health messaging even if they believed that they had scientific evidence to support their professional view.

The directive states:

‘Any promotion of anti-vaccination statements or health advice which contradicts the best available scientific evidence or seeks to actively undermine the national immunisation campaign (including via social media) is not supported by National Boards and may be in breach of the codes of conduct and subject to investigation and possible regulatory action.’

One Narrative Only

Brett Simmonds, Pharmacy Board Chair and co-chair of the Forum of NRAS Chairs, said of Covid vaccination programs:

‘National Boards support the vaccination program and encourage all registered health practitioners to get vaccinated unless medically contraindicated.

‘The codes of conduct for each of the registered health professions explain the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention.

‘There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims including on social media, and advertising may be subject to regulatory action.

‘If you’re a registered health practitioner or student, the best thing to do is to read our joint statement. It explains the National Boards’ expectations of registered health practitioners about receiving, administering, and sharing information about Covid vaccination. It’s important you understand these expectations so that patients and communities are best protected against the novel coronavirus that causes Covid.’

AHPRA chief Martin Fletcher rejected the claim, saying:

‘In essence, AHPRA and National Boards expect health practitioners to use their professional judgment and the best available evidence in practice. This includes when providing information to the public about public health issues such as Covid and vaccination.

‘Any promotion of anti-vaccination statements or health advice that contradicts the best available scientific evidence or seeks to actively undermine the national immunisation campaign (including via social media) is not supported by National Boards.

‘It may be in breach of the codes of conduct and subject to investigation and possible regulatory action.’

It is a statement that appears to confirm, not deny, the complaints of medical professionals.

Never before have government bodies demanded compliance with domestic law that we believe breaches our codes and oaths to ‘first, do no harm’ and ‘I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat’.

Ineffective

Is it widely known among practitioners and the public that the government changed laws to give manufacturers 6 years to provide comprehensive clinical data on safety and efficacy for provisionally approved Covid treatments?

The comparative lack of vital long-term data (present for other vaccines and medical treatments) is lacking in Covid vaccines — making it difficult to justify statements such as proven safe and effective. ‘Assumed to the best of our knowledge’ would be more accurate.

This problem is highlighted by changing promises related to Covid vaccines, which began as ‘you won’t get sick and it will stop transmission’ but now manufacturers and medical bodies have had to admit, due to overwhelming physical evidence in patients, that Covid vaccines do not stop transmission and many people still get sick and die. These revelations call into question the validity of extraordinary measures placed on people for over two years.

Heavy-handed

In Australia, we have a serious problem. Government excesses of power created through emergency legislation have been allowed to violate our freedoms and liberties. They were justified by largely unscientific and refutable claims. Fear was wrongly employed by political leaders, who also took steps to keep health advice secret from the public by the re-classifying of National Cabinet after Freedom of Information requests were approved by the court.

Public Health Laws gave Chief Health Officers (CHO) unprecedented powers to do almost anything they thought was reasonable during a pandemic — which can be declared on opinion, not evidence — without having to justify their decisions. They are no better than the authorities in Galileo’s time.

Standing Up

Queensland Doctors are taking the Qld CHO to court to gain access to the scientific evidence used to justify mandates that contradict historical experience and scientific consensus. Public confidence should never be coerced through government-mandated compliance to political directives.

We believe our code of conduct requirements demand we exercise our right to political communication to respectfully debate scientific evidence, risk/benefit analysis of therapeutics, and provide informed consent. But to do so, we risk losing everything.

If we are forbidden by the government to adhere to our codes and make our patients our primary concern, then this is the end of medicine and the death of science.

Punitive

AMPS cannot allow such government intrusion to stand. We are fighting back against new laws recommended by the Queensland government that allow public naming and shaming of doctors under investigation.

‘New legislation introduced in Queensland, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, will greatly enhance the government regulator’s powers for censoring doctors in Queensland,’ said Steven Andrews MP for Marani QLD.

Even the AMA described these new laws as ‘incoherent zealotry’. The cost for patient advocacy will be public humiliation and potentially career-ending reputational damage. With this unchecked power of AHPRA, fear-based compliance to public health directives will become the primary concern of practitioners.

AMPS has been calling for a Royal Commission into the government response to Covid, while advocating strongly for law reform needed now to allow practitioners to advocate for their patients as their primary concern. Click here for more information. We cannot stay silent while adherence to public health messaging becomes the new accepted standard of good medical practice. Our patients, not politicians, are who we serve, no matter the personal cost.

Galileo said, ‘Two truths cannot contradict one another.’ The pressure on medical professionals to hide their true opinions should be rescinded and doctors allowed to openly debate all Covid measures and be able to have all tools at their disposal to treat patients.

___

Photo by Karolina Grabowska.

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One Comment

  1. Jim Twelves 5 August 2022 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Australian Medical Professionals Society, thank you so much for this report, it is so important for all of us and thank you so much for your initiative. I would love to send this article to my own doctor to read and consider signing, but I have failed to find a way to access an email for them. Are there ways you can advise me how to contact them?

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