It has been reported that a GP has been erased from the medical register after a disciplinary tribunal concluded yesterday that her statements on vaccines amounted to misconduct.
Dr Jayne Donegan, who no longer works as an NHS GP, was found by the tribunal to have ‘encouraged parents to mislead healthcare professionals about their children’s diet or immunization history’. The UK General Medical Council (GMC) brought several allegations against Dr Donegan, about statements made between 2019 and 2020, however, the determination of impaired fitness to practise (FTP) and subsequent erasure was based solely on her suggestions to parents.
The tribunal determined that her misconduct ‘posed an ongoing risk to patient safety given her lack of insight and lack of remediation’ and that ‘public confidence would be undermined’ if such a doctor was allowed to remain in practice. An immediate order of suspension was imposed, which the tribunal determined necessary for the ‘protection of the public’. Other GMC allegations, such as Dr. Donegan’s statements failing to ‘give balanced information on the risks and benefits of immunization’, were proved true by the tribunal but were not determined to be serious misconduct.
Dr. Donegan works as a homeopathic and naturopathic practitioner and has been ‘researching disease ecology and vaccination since 1994’, according to her website. The tribunal considered statements made by Dr. Donegan in a consultation with an undercover reporter and during her lectures on vaccination. She had said that the historical decline in deaths from whooping cough was because of sanitation and surgeons, not vaccinations. She had also suggested to audiences at her lectures that they could avoid answering questions from healthcare professionals about their child’s immunization history. When asked by an audience member about this, Dr. Donegan had said: ‘I thought what am I going to do because if I were you, I could just forge something but I can’t do that because I am a doctor and I would get struck off and I really would get struck off. What can I do? I thought maybe I can do something homeopathic because they are not having it. In the meantime, I wrote “Yes, I’ll get it done” thinking what will I do and they never came back to me, so when the next one went I just said “yes. The main thing is, don’t stick your head above the parapet because you make it difficult for them. If you say they are not vaccinated, they say they can’t go on the trip or they say “They could but the insurers won’t insure us”, so just keep saying “yes” but don’t say I said that.’
The tribunal concluded that comments like this made it clear Dr. Donegan was aware this was a ‘serious matter that could result in her being struck off’, despite her defense that she was simply ‘making people laugh’. The MPTS tribunal chair Mr Julian Weinberg said: ‘The Tribunal considered that honest and accurate communication of an individual’s medical history forms an essential part of ongoing patient healthcare and that any attempt to undermine this risks the safety of patients. It noted that whilst no dishonesty was found against Dr. Donegan, the Tribunal has found that she encouraged parents to be dishonest with healthcare professionals by, for example, forging medical documents/records, thereby undermined this essential quality of the doctor/patient relationship.’ Mr Weinberg highlighted that the tribunal’s findings did not concern ‘the rights or wrongs of her views on immunization’ but rather her encouragement to parents to mislead healthcare professionals.
Dr. Donegan said in response to the decision: ‘I boycotted the GMC’s political show trial against me which ended today. Serious irregularities include bogus dishonesty charges and bogus accusations that I put newborns at risk of serious harm.’ She added: ‘Being struck off by a corrupt GMC is a small price to pay for taking a lawful ethical stand for the safety of British children.’
Apparently, Dr. Donegan even claimed that she is delighted to be struck off the register of medical practitioners – and so, I presume, are many of us reading this post!