Northern Ireland news

Derry GP Dr Anne McCloskey suspended after anti-vaccination comments

Derry GP Dr Anne McCloskey. Picture by Mark Marlow
Seanín Graham

Derry GP Dr Anne McCloskey has been suspended after posting anti-vaccination comments, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has confirmed.

The HSCB described it as a "precautionary measure" and said a full investigation into "complaints and concerns" would be carried out.

The Health and Social Care Board is investigating footage relating to Dr Anne McCloskey, who has been working at an out-of-hours (OOH) service in the city, following complaints from GP colleagues and members of the public about her "behaviour and conflict of interest".

"The HSCB can confirm that it has suspended Dr McCloskey as a precautionary measure while it undertakes a full investigation regarding complaints and concerns raised against this doctor," the board said in a statement this afternoon.

"Suspension is not an automatic occurrence when undertaking an investigation but may be necessary where there are concerns regarding patient safety and in the public interest.

"Dr McCloskey is not free to work for HSC organisations during her suspension."

Dr McCloskey retired in 2019 but returned to the health service last April in response to the pandemic workforce appeal.

A former member of the anti-abortion political party Aontú, the medic posted the Facebook video at the weekend after working shifts at the OOH centre in Derry - during a period when thousands of people were inoculated at walk-in centres.

Dr McCloskey claimed the majority of patients she treated were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 but presented as "sick, distressed worried and traumatised people".

She described the vaccine as an "experimental genetic therapy" and claimed that many people had been "bribed or bullied" into receiving both doses or else face the removal of their "basic human rights, such as travel and meeting friends.

And she said that the hospitals are "full" while the GP out-of-hours centre is "jammed with people testing positive and yet had two doses".

The Irish News was contacted by some doctors yesterday, expressing concerns about the post by Dr McCloskey.

Latest figures show that 70 per cent of the north's Covid patients in ICU are unvaccinated.

Coronavirus infection rates and deaths in Northern Ireland are the highest in the UK while vaccine uptake is lowest.

When contacted yesterday, the HSCB confirmed Dr McCloskey works on a "sessional basis" for Western Urgent Care (WUC), the organisation responsible for GP Out-of-Hours Services in the western area.

"This means that she does not frequently work for the service," a board spokeswoman said.

She added: "Following her recent social media post, a number of complaints have been received from both GP colleagues and members of the public around her behaviour, comments and conflict of interest.

"The Health and Social Care Board takes a very serious view of this. Patients often turn to GPs as a source of medical advice and GPs must inspire confidence and trust in patients.

"We can confirm that the HSCB is carrying out an urgent investigation into the comments/views expressed by Dr McCloskey on social media and WUC is currently progressing with its own separate investigations and internal processes in relation to the matter."

Dr McCloskey has previously been reported to the General Medical Council over her opposition to masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which she likened in a public address in Guildhall Square last year to being as effective as "using a sheep fence to keep out mosquitos".

Read more: North's Covid-19 death rate higher than any other country tracked by health chiefs (premium)

 

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