Derry GP suspended over Covid-19 vaccine comments

Former Aontú councillor Dr Anne McCloskey given 18-month ‘interim’ suspension

Among unsubstantiated claims made by Dr Anne McCloskey in a social media video were that many people have been ‘coerced, bribed or bullied’ into being vaccinated

Among unsubstantiated claims made by Dr Anne McCloskey in a social media video were that many people have been ‘coerced, bribed or bullied’ into being vaccinated

 

A well-known family doctor in Derry has been suspended from practising over an investigation into disinformation around the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Dr Anne McCloskey was given an 18-month “interim” suspension while the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) investigates a number of complaints against her.

In a statement, the GMC – which oversees the medical profession in the UK – said the action followed an interim orders tribunal hearing on Tuesday at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

“The tribunal directed an 18-month interim suspension but all such restrictions are kept under regular review while a full investigation is carried out,” a GMC spokesman said.

“Doctors are unable to practise medicine in the UK while interim suspended.”

Last month, the North’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) said it was carrying out an “urgent investigation” into comments made in a social media video posted by Dr McCloskey.

Although retired, she returned to work in April last year to assist colleagues in dealing with the pandemic.

Unsubstantiated claims

Among unsubstantiated claims made Dr McCloskey, a former Aontú councillor, in a nine-minute video were that many people have been “coerced, bribed or bullied” into being vaccinated and that vaccines were “malevolent”.

The Western Urgent Care centre, which employs Dr McCloskey, is also investigating.

The HSCB received complaints about the posting from other GPs and the public.

The board said it “takes a very serious view of this” and had ordered an “urgent investigation” about her remarks. “Patients often turn to GPs as a source of medical advice and GPs must inspire confidence and trust in patients,” the board said at the time.

The GMC said it can refer a doctor to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service “at any point during an investigation, if it is necessary for the protection of the public, or otherwise in the public interest or in the interests of the doctor”.

“These tribunals do not determine the facts of what happened but undertake a risk assessment of whether temporary protection is needed,” a GMC spokesman said.

Sinead McLaughlin, an SDLP MLA in Derry, said she was “extremely concerned” at misinformation deterring people from getting vaccinated against Covid-19. “It is essential that medical professionals provide patients and the general public with the best possible advice with regard to vaccinations,” she said. “There is overwhelming evidence that vaccinations provide protection against the worst effects of Covid.”