The President of the High Court has ruled that a GP who allegedly told a patient the Covid-19 pandemic is a "hoax" should be temporarily suspended from practising medicine.
In a judgment published this week, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said she was satisfied to make orders suspending the practising certificate of Dr Gerard Waters pending the outcome of any full disciplinary proceedings into allegations against him.
Dr Waters, aged in his 70s, is based in Celbridge, in Co Kildare.
The application seeking his suspension was heard by Ms Justice Irvine before Easter in camera.
On the application of the Medical Council, the court’s judgment has since been made available and was published this week on the courts website.
In her judgment, Ms Justice Irvine said the Council received a complaint about the GP from a patient who attended at his surgery in September of 2020 with a suspected chest infection, concerned they may have Covid-19.
After being told Dr Waters surgery could not refer patients for Covid-19 tests, the patient attended a different doctor who said the symptoms were not consistent with Covid-19 and it was likely the patient had a chest infection.
The patient returned to Dr Waters’ surgery where he said he saw a pamphlet entitled: “No pandemic killing us” and alleged he was treated to a barrage of “nonsense” about the “hoax that is Covid-19” by Dr Waters, the judge said.
It is alleged Dr Waters told the patient the Government was “scamming” the people, wearing of masks was causing illness, and people reported as having died from Covid-19 had not actually died from the virus.
The patient also claimed Dr Waters said the patient’s symptoms were caused by his face mask, describing it a “silly f**king thing”.
The patient made a complaint due to his belief that what the doctor said was dangerous and was undermining messages given by public health professionals trying to manage the global public health emergency.
Arising out of the complaint, the Council contacted Dr Waters who admitted setting out his point of view on Covid-19 to the patient but claimed he did so in a professional manner, the judge said.
In a response to the allegations, Dr Waters expressed his views regarding the Government’s handling of the pandemic and his research regarding the pandemic, she said.
He stated the State’s measures have “done more harm than good,” specifically psychological damage from lockdowns and supplied documents sourced from abroad to support his views.
He said the Government had instigated “media propaganda”, which was being used to front run an economic collapse in the western world and the death toll from Covid-19 is inflated.
The doctor had said his views have only been communicated to patients who seek his professional opinion and he has not shared his views on the internet or stood on a platform speaking to the public.
The Council said it wrote to Dr Waters expressing its concerns and sought assurances from him he would adhere to best professional practice and would follow HSE Covid-19 guidelines, the judge said.
Last February the Council discovered Dr Waters had told some media he would not administer Covid-19 vaccines to patients as he was a conscientious objector.
After it was unable to get certain assurance from Dr Waters, the Council instructed its lawyers to apply under the 2007 Medical Practitioners Act to the High Court to suspend his registration.
It claimed the patient’s complaint raised serious issues about Dr Waters’ clinical practice and about public safety and he was failing to follow ethical guidelines. It was in particular concerned about his admission he had not referred any patient of his for a Covid-19 test.
While certain undertakings to co-operate with the HSE were tendered by Dr Waters, the Council considered they did not go far enough to protect the public and his patients.
Opposing the application to suspend him, Dr Waters argued his views regarding Covid-19 are protected by his right to conscientious objection and denied putting his patients at risk.
He also argued there was significant scepticism in the public and medical profession about vaccines and his actions did not amount to an attempt to undermine public health.
In her decision, Ms Justice Irvine said the Council was justified in bringing the application to suspend Dr Waters, pending the outcome of an investigation into his alleged conduct.
The allegations were sufficiently serious to warrant the bringing of an application seeking his temporary suspension, she added. The undertakings offered by Dr Waters were not sufficient to allow the court to impose any less restrictive measures, she said.
Having considered all the material before the court, she was satisfied to grant the relief sought by the council.