A senior doctors’ union has condemned an “outrageous” move by Whanganui District Health Board to summon a hospital doctor to a disciplinary meeting over his part in a protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Emergency medicine specialist Chris Cresswell, who is also the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists’ Whanganui branch president, was arrested at last week’s protest after he climbed on top of localo MP Chester Borrows’ car and sat on it while dressed in his scrubs.
He was given a verbal warning by police, but was not charged.
Now the DHB has called him in for a “please explain” meeting, prompting his association to order it to “pull your head in”.
ASMS executive director Ian Powell said on Thursday that the DHB’s move was outrageous. “Memo to Whanganui DHB: doctors have a right, and in fact a responsibility, to speak out publicly on these matters without you trying to shut down the debate. Pull your head in.”
The union is in the wrong.
Doctors, like anyone, have the right to write letters, do op eds, attend protests on the TPP or other issues.
But he doesn’t have the right to sit on an MP’s car and refuse to leave until he is arrested.
Doing so while dressed in his employer’s uniform does bring the employer into disrepute.
“This binding employment agreement includes specific clauses to protect the right of doctors to engage in public debate on matters relevant to their expertise and experience.”
Sitting on a car is not engaging in public debate.