10 Dec 2021

Medical Council to put to GP 'serious concerns' over fraudulent vaccine exemptions

8:51 am on 10 December 2021

The Medical Council says it has begun gathering information "with urgency" in regard to a Kaiapoi GP who has been filmed handing out fraudulent vaccine exemption certificates at her clinic.

Dr Jonie Girouard's weight loss centre in Kaiapoi.

The Girouard Centre in Kaiapoi. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Newshub captured Jonie Girouard coaching clients on how to get away with using them and declaring she was unvaccinated.

The Medical Council, the body that ensures doctors were competent and fit to practise, is now working alongside the Ministry of Health which set the vaccination requirements, the Health and Disability Commissioner and the police to investigate the case.

Its chair Dr Curtis Walker said he could not say much about the individual case while it was under consideration.

"We did receive a complaint from the HDC [Health and Disability Commissioner] and have promptly started our processes of gathering the information we need with urgency and that really involves seeking the doctor's response to what are pretty serious concerns."

Dr Jonie Girouard.

Dr Jonie Girouard. Photo: A screengrab from Newshub

Dr Walker said in general terms whenever the Medical Council receives a complaint about a doctor's "competence or conduct or health" it can firstly seek an undertaking from the doctor to modify their practice in some way which may include limiting the number of patients they can see or to have a chaperone.

He said at the most extreme end the council can suspend a doctor from practising while investigations are carried out.

Dr Walker said the council follows a process of nature justice and will put the matter to Jonie Girouard.

"We're taking this matter very seriously, in that there is no place for anti-vaccination messaging or Covid misinformation in medical practice."

He said GPs cannot provide vaccine exemptions and the only way to get one is via the Ministry of Health through the Director-General of Health.