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Covid conspiracies Suspended doctor inflicted patient with 'barrage of nonsense' and claimed Covid was a hoax, High Court hears

Dr Waters indicated he did not intend to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to his patients


The High Court, Dublin. (Stock image)

The High Court, Dublin. (Stock image)

The High Court, Dublin. (Stock image)

A suspended doctor inflicted a patient with a “barrage of nonsense” claiming Covid-19 was a hoax, the High Court has heard.

Dr Gerard Waters (71) had pamphlets in the waiting room of his surgery with the title “No Pandemic Killing Us” and told the patient the State and the Government were “scamming the people”.

The general practitioner, based at the Whitethorn Clinic in Celbridge, Co Kildare, was suspended from practice by the president of the High Court last month pending the outcome of an inquiry by the Medical Council.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine found patients of Dr Waters would be at significant risk of remaining undiagnosed and untreated if they presented to him with Covid symptoms.

The court also made orders to facilitate the ongoing provision of medical care by other medical practitioners to patients of the Whitethorn Clinic.

The decision was delivered “in camera” on March 2. However, it has now been published following an application by the Medical Council.

It made the request after a banner appeared on the wall of the Whitethorn Clinic which the council was concerned misrepresented the basis for the making of the suspension order. Ms Justice Irvine ordered the banner be removed.

Her ruling detailed claims by a patient that Dr Waters advised him the wearing of masks was causing illness.

Dr Waters was said to have handed him photocopied pages with death numbers from Ireland and Italy, and bar charts showing the ages of victims in an effort to convince him Covid-19 was a hoax.

The patient alleged Dr Waters claimed people who are confirmed as having died of Covid-19 had not actually died from the disease and those that did were “terribly old”.

He also alleged the doctor suggested his symptoms were caused by the mask he was wearing during the consultation last September.

The patient had originally contacted the surgery days earlier seeking a Covid test but said he was informed by the secretary they did not have a computerised system so were unable to refer patients for Covid testing.

Following a phone consultation with another GP, the man was told he did not have Covid symptoms. Two days later, he arranged an appointment with Dr Waters to deal with a suspected chest infection.

The visit prompted the complaint to the Medical Council.

“As soon as I entered the surgery, wearing my mask I may add, I was treated to a barrage of nonsense about the 'hoax that is Covid-19', how the State and the Government are scamming the people, and how masks are causing illness,” the man said in his complaint.

“It was the most uncomfortable experience I have sat through in many years.”

The man complained the doctor’s opinions were “not unlike” those being shared by “terribly irresponsible people” online.

“Dr Waters even suggested my illness was as a result of 'that silly f ***ing thing’ I was wearing, as he pointed to my mask. His behaviour was beyond inappropriate,” the man said.

The court heard that when contacted by the Medical Council about the complaint, Dr Waters admitted having set out his point of view on Covid-19 but maintained he did so in a reasoned manner.

In his response, he claimed that death toll figures were inflated and that “propaganda” perpetuated by governments and the media in relation to Covid-19 was being used to “front run” an economic collapse in the Western world.

The president of the Medical Council, Dr Rita Doyle, wrote to Dr Waters expressing concerns and seeking assurances that he would follow HSE Covid-19 guidelines.

But Dr Waters went on to send a fax to the HSE indicating he did not intend to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to his patients.

The HSE requested that he provide it with the names, addresses, dates of birth, contact numbers and email addresses of his patients aged 85 and over and those aged 70 and over, but he did not comply.

Dr Waters indicated to the court he was willing to give undertakings to comply with the request by the HSE and also to facilitate the referral of his patients with Covid symptoms to other practices.

Ms Justice Irvine said the suspension of the doctor would undoubtedly have adverse consequences for his patients, particularly those on the General Medical Services scheme who will have to find a new practitioner.

But she said any adverse consequences for those patients were outweighed by the risks Dr Waters’s conduct poses to them and those with whom they live if he was permitted to continue with his practice, regardless of the undertakings offered.

“The respondent’s conduct exposes his patients to the very real risk of infection when attending his surgery,” she said.

“If symptomatic for Covid-19, the respondent’s patients would, in my view, be at significant risk of remaining undiagnosed and untreated or having their diagnosis or treatment delayed.

“Furthermore, patients with Covid-19 symptoms might not be advised to self-isolate, thus furthering community transmission.

“All of the evidence heard in the context of the present application leads me to conclude that the health, safety and welfare of the respondent’s patients and the community in which they live can only be adequately protected by the imposition of the suspension sought.

“These concerns outweigh all other considerations including the inconvenience, although burdensome, imposed on those patients who will have to find a new GP to attend with.”

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