COVID-19

Doctor who texted his patients anti-vaccine message has his contract terminated

A doctor in Wellington, New Zealand, had his contract with a medical facility terminated after he sent out a text message to patients warning them not to get vaccinated for Covid, the New Zealand news media outlet Stuff reported.

From Stuff:

Dr Matthew Shelton sent a text to some of his patients on August 19 stating he did not support the vaccination of children, and pregnant and fertile women.

Since then Shelton says his contract with Tū Ora Compass Health, which provides management services to 60 medical practices in the Wellington region, has been terminated.

Shelton said he was self-employed and running his own practice within the Plimmerton Medical Centre.

This Monday, Plimmerton Medical Centre informed Shelton‘s patients that he was no longer working there. Speaking to Stuff, Shelton said that his main concern is “for my patients to not believe I just walked out, nor that my practice tried to ‘get rid of me’. I have had 11 happy years at PMC.”

“With no forewarning of the Government’s announcement to begin injecting children, I texted under urgency my patients who had not yet been vaccinated and who had not already been offered vaccination based on their deemed higher risk from Covid infection,” he said. “I regret that some patients may not have received my professional opinion.”

In a statement, Medical Council chair Dr. Curtis Walker said the council “expects doctors to be aware of, and comply with, its published standards of clinical and ethical practice. If a doctor is not complying with the standards set by council, there are a number of options available to council which in the most serious cases can include suspension, or placing conditions on a doctor’s practice to protect the public from harm, and referring the notification to a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) for further investigation.”

One patient speaking to Stuff said she had no idea Shelton had anti-vaccine views when she joined the medical center.

“I was absolutely appalled and somewhat upset to get that original text because I had not asked him for any advice on this. It would be one thing if you went to his practice and said doctor, what do you think about this? But just to send me an unsolicited text, certainly strongly implying that we shouldn’t get the vaccination I think is just absolutely awful.”

“My immediate thought was how damaging that could be to anyone who was unsure about it,” she added. “I think it is completely unethical for a doctor to be suggesting that people should not get vaccinated during a pandemic and doing that in a sort of unsolicited way.”

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