'Completely unwarranted': Councillor told to apologise after calling for sacking of health boss

Independent councillor David Durant. Picture: Archant.

Independent councillor David Durant. Picture: Archant. - Credit: Archant

A councillor who said a senior doctor should be sacked for advising pregnant women to get the Covid vaccine has been told to apologise. 

David Durant, from Havering Council’s Independent Residents’ Group, called the advice from the local NHS trust’s chief medical officer “absolutely scandalous” during a council meeting on November 11. 

He claimed, in his opinion, the advice from Dr Magda Smith “disqualifies that medical officer from her position”. 

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), later called on Cllr Durant to apologise, describing his criticism of Dr Smith as “completely unwarranted”. 

He continued: “Magda is a highly regarded clinician with decades of experience. She worked throughout the pandemic to look after patients affected by Covid-19. 

“I hope Cllr Durant will reflect and apologise to Magda. I trust he will avoid repeating his accusation again in public.” 

Dr Smith recently told the Local Democracy Service that pregnant women at her trust have had to give birth early due to complications from Covid-19. 

Magda Smith, chief medical officer of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

Magda Smith, BHRUT chief medical officer (taken pre-pandemic). - Credit: BHRUT

She warned that unvaccinated pregnant women were among the most at-risk from the virus, particularly if they’re towards the end of their pregnancy. 

Dr Smith said: "We saw a few of those women sadly ending up in intensive care because they were getting incredibly sick." 

In August 2020, Cllr Durant was criticised for saying the government had “vastly inflated the seriousness” of the pandemic and had “promoted ongoing fear porn that has terrorised the public”. 

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When asked to explain his views further today, Cllr Durant said he believes the vaccine should not be given to pregnant women because it “was authorised as an emergency response”.

This is untrue, said Mark Ansell, Havering’s director of public health: “Our role is to ensure that residents have accurate information and the evidence in favour of pregnant women having the vaccine is overwhelmingly positive.  

“It has proven to be safe for women and their unborn child and significantly reduces the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Council leader Cllr Damian White said Cllr Durant’s opinions were “extremely dangerous” and asked him to retract his comments about Magda Smith. 

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