No-jab GP quits

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By PHILIP CHANDLER

Wakatipu Medical Centre’s been rocked by a long-time doctor and another staff member quitting because they won’t be vaxxed.

The pair wouldn’t meet a government mandate under which all healthcare workers have to be vaccinated to prevent the spread of Covid.

‘‘Both these people were really skilled medical people,’’ says senior doctor Val Miller, who won’t identify them.

‘‘It’s a real loss to the community and very sad for the rest of us, and obviously at a time when New Zealand’s very short of skilled [medical staff].’’

Miller says she didn’t try to change their minds.

‘‘It’s not my business to do that.

‘‘Obviously, I have had discussions with them, but it’s entirely their business and their decisions what they do.’’

She also says the vaccine issue wasn’t the only reason they left.

‘‘It leaves us all working double shifts and things like that.

‘‘But we’ll find somebody suitable to replace them.’’

Asked if she supports the government’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy for healthcare workers, Miller replies: ‘‘I’m not going to say, really I just think there should have been room for accommodation.’’

Queenstown doc apparently only NZ’s third vaxxing resignation

‘‘We’ve always been taught to see other people’s point of view, to be able to talk around the situation, and work things out, and we’ve been put in a situation where … we haven’t had that option.’’

Miller, who’s also a local councillor, doesn’t think her doctor’s resignation should spur on anti-
vaxxers, being ‘‘one doctor out of how many millions throughout the world who are very comfortable with [the jab]’’.

However, last month she told Mountain Scene she’d been a hesitant vaxxer herself, till she became ‘‘quite confident in the science’’.

The doctor who’s resigned is possibly only the third in NZ to hang up their stethoscope over the vaccine issue — the others hail from the Kapiti Coast and Methven.

Royal NZ College of General Practitioners president Dr Samantha Murton emphasises
that’s ‘‘a very small number’’ out of about 5500 members in her organisation.

‘‘The vast majority have been vaccinated and continue to work.’’

She notes some members of the ‘NZ Doctors Speak Out With Science’ anti-vaxxing lobby group, which claims to have 64 doctors, are in clinical practice, ‘‘but I don’t know what their plan is’’.

‘Our job is to do no harm’

Murton also points out the vaccination order’s been changed ‘‘so someone can work [remotely] solely on telehealth, but they can’t go into a medical practice’’.

‘It’s disappointing’: Royal NZ College of General Practitioners president Dr Samantha Murton

Asked her view on those doctors who have quit, she says: ‘‘I think it’s disappointing that when there’s such a shortage of GPs that people are choosing to resign.

‘‘As a health professional, our job is to do no harm, therefore if you choose not to be vaccinated then you’re putting people at risk if you are in contact with them, so that’s the difficulty we have.

‘‘And to get the health system running and for the greater good, [vaccinating] is the right thing to do … but people have choice.’’

Meanwhile, Queenstown Medi cal Centre CEO Ashley Light reports all his staff have been getting vaccinated — ‘‘we’ve no issues at all’’.

‘‘Everyone’s more than happy to go ahead with the vaccine.’’

scoop@scene.co.nz