Thursday, March 17, 2011

Climate of Intimidation against Doctors speaking out for the public

One doctor after another steps forward and makes the same allegations that Raj Sherman has, about doctors who complain about the decay of Alberta's healthcare system facing retaliation and whisper campaigns.
The Nunes rulings from the FOI commissioner and the Court of Queen's Bench were tabled in the Alberta legislature Wednesday by Independent MLA Raj Sherman, in support of his allegations that doctors who complain about patient care have forced out and legally barred from publicly criticizing the government.
Nunes said he had heard about the case of Dr. Ciaran McNamee, first reported on CBC last week. McNamee, Capital Health's former head of thoracic surgery, filed a lawsuit in which he alleged he had been forced out of the job and accused of incompetence and mental instability after he complained about lung-surgery waiting lists.
The lawsuit was settled out of court and the allegations were never proven. McNamee now teaches at Harvard and is a surgeon at one of Boston's top hospitals.
Another doctor told CBC this week that, like McNamee, she also had been demoted, fired and was the subject of a whisper campaign that questioned her sanity after she complained about health-care cuts putting patient safety at risk. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she is still bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
Nunes said he decided to go public after seeing the McNamee story and hearing Sherman's allegations.
"The reason I am speaking is out because I don't have a gag order, and secondly, I knew from the beginning what Dr. Raj Sherman was getting at because it happened to me as well and I know of other colleagues that this sort of intimidation has happened to as well. So I thought if I don't speak out, if I don't say something, then I am part of the problem."
Nunes, a physician for 31 years, said he has worked in South Africa, Britain and in several cities across Canada.
"I have never felt the sense of intimidation that I felt here," he said.
" What Dr. Raj Sherman and the opposition are pushing for in terms of having a public inquiry, I think that's the right thing. I think it's the only way of getting to the bottom of whether the government had a hand in this or if it was just poor administration."
On Wednesday, Premier Ed Stelmach again rejected calls for a public inquiry, saying he has seen no evidence to support Sherman's allegations.
Questioning the sanity of government critics is literally an old Stalinist favorite, while some of the loathsome tactics on display are uniquely Albertan.

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