I used to say that I was ‘proud to be a nurse’ and indeed, I am proud to be a nurse… again.
I despaired of my profession during the Covid years. The relentless ‘look at me’ virtue-signalling on social media, lapping up the ridiculous clapping for carers and promoting all aspects of the Covid narrative such as lockdown, social distancing and face masks. Few showed any sympathy for colleagues in care homes who lost their jobs over vaccine mandates, and most would not hear a word of criticism regarding the Covid vaccines. The final straw was the demand for an inflation-driving pay rise in 2022 having, unlike many people, been fully employed and paid throughout lockdown.
Worse than that was the reluctance of many in the ‘caring profession’ to extend that care to colleagues — like me — who put their head over the parapet to ask questions about lockdown, question the evidential basis for mask mandates and point out, as many of them will also have read in I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that by Ben Goldacre, that relative risk reduction by itself is not a useful way to indicate the efficacy of a vaccine. This was also explained early in 2021 in the Lancet. We were pilloried on social media, received hate emails and were reported to our employers. At least one pair of editors of a prestigious academic nursing journal abused their position and used their editorial page to make an ad hominem attack and refused the right of reply.
One gets used to the opprobrium and the lack of apology when the pillars of the Covid regime were shown to crumble in the way that the evidence in favour of masks, the justification for lockdown and the claims of 100% safety for Covid vaccines have. But nothing prepared me for the letter I received late last year from my professional body, the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) informing me that I was being investigated on the basis that I had been “using [my] status as a registered nurse to promote incorrect information about COVID-19 and the nursing profession in general”.
The complaint from an anonymous person (of course) was based on a co-authored article in the Daily Sceptic questioning nurses’ numeracy in interpreting aspects of the Covid narrative but also pointing out that they could clearly “count to 15” as that was the percentage pay rise they were then demanding. I was very grateful then to have the immediate support, for the second time, of the Free Speech Union (FSU), the Workers of England trade union and some members of the Health Advisory and Recovery Team (HART). Toby Young, General Secretary of the FSU and Dr. Ros Jones with Dr. Clare Craig of HART wrote to the NMC urging that the matter be dropped. My response to the NMC can be found on my Substack.
Much to the disappointment of my supporters, the NMC decided to proceed with the investigation and, as if to prove what has become a dictum, that “the process is the punishment” I was kept waiting eight months for a decision. However, finally, a decision was conveyed to me this week that I had “no case to answer” for which I was very grateful.
It would be churlish of me to quibble at this stage over the inordinate time it took to arrive at what must have been a very straightforward decision or to protest too much that it should not have gone to investigation in the first place. It did take an inordinate length of time and it should not have proceeded to investigation, but there is a very positive side to this: the NMC have struck a blow for free speech and have vicariously shown support for other nurses on their register who questioned the Covid narrative. I am not alone in being under investigation but, with luck, this will lead to speedy and identical decisions for others who find themselves in my position. Two cheers for the NMC!
Dr. Roger Watson is Academic Dean of Nursing at Southwest Medical University, China. He has a PhD in biochemistry.