An emailed response from the Medical Council Communications Team stated: “The medical council has taken this action in order to protect the health and safety of the public and to maintain confidence in the medical profession.
“By law, the council cannot release any further details about this decision, including the reasons or any details about the complaints that have prompted this regulatory action.
“The council will not be making any further public statements on this matter.”
Meanwhile, the answering machine of the long-time Iluka-based doctor recites, “Dr Richards and others have been suspended temporarily over covid issues; we will keep you updated, thank you.”
The medical council’s response also provided “background’ about its role: “The Medical Council works in collaboration with the co-regulator, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, to receive and manage complaints about doctors and medical students in NSW.
“The council’s paramount obligation is to protect the public by ensuring doctors in NSW practise safely and in accordance with professional standards and conduct expected of them by the community.
“The council deals with individual doctors whose conduct, performance or health may represent a risk to the public and works with them, where possible, to reduce that risk by for example, placing conditions on their medical registration.”
However, the medical council’s response points out that it “does not have punitive powers and cannot de-register a medical practitioner”.
The Independent was unable to contact Dr Richards.