17 Sep 2015

TPP protest arrest 'could cost doctor his job'

7:32 pm on 17 September 2015

A doctor who jumped on a car carrying the deputy prime minister during a TPP protest and had to be forcibly removed could lose his job.

Whanganui Hospital

Whanganui Hospital Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Emergency medicine specialist Dr Chris Cresswell organised a protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership last week.

Local media reported he jumped on Whanganui MP Chester Borrows' car, which Deputy Prime Minister Bill English was also travelling in, and refused to budge.

He was pulled off by Mr Borrows, arrested, and issued a verbal warning by police.

Dr Cresswell has been summoned to a disciplinary meeting with Whanganui District Health Board officials tomorrow.

The board's chief medical officer, Frank Rawlinson, said he was "very disappointed" the meeting had been made public.

"As I stated in my letter requesting that he meet with me to discuss his recent actions, I respect his rights under the Bill of Rights Act," he said.

"I do, however, reserve the right to discuss with Dr Cresswell the effects that his very public behaviour may have on the DHB. I have no intention of challenging his views, but rather the way in which he chose to express them."

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said Dr Cresswell had been gagged.

"It disregarded his right under his collective agreement to speak out and make public comment relevant to his profession and experience," he said.

"This is, in our view, bullying and intimidation."

He said Dr Cresswell could lose his job, but was more likely to be issued with a formal warning.

Mr Powell said the DHB previously wrote to Dr Cresswell telling him the disciplinary meeting was about his anti-TPP views.

"The letter that was sent to him talked about his views as distinct from what he did," he said. "It was a very peaceful protest - he even symbolically took his shoes off to get onto the car."

Council of Trade Unions' secretary Sam Huggard said the DHB should retract its threat of displinary action.

"Health professionals have consistently and repeatedly raised their concerns in every possible forum about what impact this secret trade deal may have on the patients and the families they care for."

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