Doctors told be wary of media

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2014

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Do not smile, it could "convey the wrong message".

Do not cover your face in front of a photographer.

Do not react angrily in front of a television camera.

And, definitely, do not say "no comment" to a journalist - it might sound defensive.

The world's leading medical defence organisation, Medical Protection Society (MPS), has offered a "do-not" list to New Zealand doctors who could have a run-in with a reporter.

In a New Zealand Association of Salaried Medical Specialists newsletter, article titled Managing the media, clinicians are being told to divert all media calls to the society.

The crack-down on media relations comes because "media scrutiny of you and your practice of medicine could put your personal and professional reputation at risk", according to the article.

A clause in New Zealand doctors' Multi Employer Collective Agreements recognises their right to comment publicly on matters related to their professional expertise and experience, yet they are still being warned to contact MPS if any journalist approaches them.

MPS offers a somewhat clinical service to liaise with the journalist, produce a written statement with the doctor and to then issue it to the journalist, only if necessary.

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