The Medical Board of Australia in June directed general practitioner and emergency doctor David Berger to undertake an education course within six months, at his own expense, or risk being deregistered.
The directive came after anonymous complaints were made to the secretive Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), in connection to Berger’s use of social media to promote a stronger public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Berger is against the governments’ “let it rip” approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An open letter to health ministers, headed by medical scientists and signed by nearly 2000 people in July, called for the condition on Berger’s practice to be revoked.
It condemned the attack on doctors’ free speech, saying “Berger is representative of all of us who take time to think, to care, and to comment in our own diverse way on how to make the public safer, especially to amplify those vulnerable groups such as the very old, very young, or very sick who may not have the resource to be heard.
“Current public health settings are not infallible, as evidenced by their constant adjustment and wide variation between jurisdictions,” the letter said.
Concerns about how to deal with the pandemic have led to a section of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to consider calling for a Royal Commission into AHPRA.
The open letter said: “It is critically important for the safety of patients that we speak openly about scientific and clinical matters, and to be polite where possible, but assertive and determined when a message for safety is being ignored by officials or politicians in charge of a health system.”
Further, it said: “The AHPRA policy assumes government policy is always in the best interests of the people of Australia, and that doctors must be subservient to the State over their concerns for patients. This is in breach of our ethical and moral obligations outlined in, for example, the Declaration of Geneva. Governments may formulate public health policies that are not in the best interests of the community, and dissenting doctors may take a position that is for the better interest of population health.”
An open letter, published by major media outlets on September 1 last year, effectively demanded governments adopt a “let it rip” approach. The letter’s sponsors included 80 of the biggest corporations, BHP, the Big Four banks, Wesfarmers, Woolworths and Coles, Telstra and Qantas among them.
Berger is an uncompromising voice giving reasoned hope that COVID-19, like so many plagues before it, can be defeated.
He warned in the Sydney Morning Herald in September last year that COVID-19 “deaths are parenthesised by age and ‘underlying health conditions’. We are being indoctrinated into believing that these deaths are happening not to healthy young people — the economically productive, important, “valuable” members of society — but rather to the old, the weak, the infirm.
“The dead wood, in other words, for whom it would be crazy to jeopardise the success of the economy, or even interrupt people’s pleasure-seeking. We would expect them to die soon anyway, COVID or no COVID.”
He warned against “opening up for the sake of the economy”, saying: “In a way, ‘the economy’ is really code for movement, the continual displacement of people and things for the purposes of creating profit. Restricting movement — the most powerful weapon against any novel pathogen — impedes the efficient creation of profit.”
“Several decades of libertarian political philosophy have resulted in the partial destruction of the idea of collective fates and collective action.
“All that matters is the individual, who is mendaciously instructed they must keep moving and abandon the weak for the sake of ‘the economy’, a construct whose purpose increasingly appears to be to deliver excessive profit to fewer and fewer oligarchs.”
AHPRA wants to silence Berger who is not prepared to blindly accept the often misleading and vested interest-driven advice of health bureaucracies.
The ability of everyone to survive the pandemic, from frontline health workers to First Nations peoples to the new born or the immuno-compromised, has been enhanced by Berger's intellectually rigorous research.