Dr Billy Ralph returned to work on Monday morning having taken some time out. A large group of supporters turned out to welcome him back saying he is ‘more than just a GP’
THE community in which a local GP practices came out in force to show their support for him on Monday morning ahead of a report due to be published today [Wednesday] by the Medical Council on foot of a complaint made by another GP in Wexford.
Dr Billy Ralph runs the Ballagh Health Centre in Ballaghkeen a few miles from Enniscorthy, and is under scrutiny by the Medical Council on the basis of a submission made by another GP relating to alleged comments made by a patient getting a Covid-19 jab in Enniscorthy,
Dr Ralph returned to his practice at 8 a.m. on Monday morning having taken a break for a number of weeks and when he arrived he was taken by surprise by the large group of local residents and patients who gathered there to greet him and show their support.
As he arrived into the car park at the health centre there was spontaneous cheering and applause from those present and when he emerged from his car he was immediately hugged by young and old.
A bouquet of flowers was also presented to him by one of the women present and it was clear that Dr Ralph was taken completely unawares by the reception.
Some of those present spoke to this newspaper and highlighted what it meant for them to have their GP back in the village.
"Just having him back is absolutely fantastic and we really missed not having him,” said Derek Ayres, who along with his wife, Breda, was among those in attendance.
“We were devastated when we heard what was happening because he is without doubt the best GP we have ever been too,” he added.
Meanwhile, Breda said he “is more than just a GP” and “goes above and beyond what any normal doctor would”.
Three more people present, John Quigley, Jim Ormonde (85) and Mogue Leary (87), also spoke highly of their GP.
"He was a really great help to me and he looked after us so well,” said Mr Ordmonde.
“To be honest I sleep easier knowing he is there,” he added.
Mr Leary described Dr Ralph as “one of the best doctors I have ever seen and he was a great support to me”.
“I got such great support and advice from him and I am indebted to him,” said Mr Leary.
“He’s unique because when you ring him up you actually get an appointment whereas in other areas you can never get to see a doctor.”
Meanwhile, Mr Quigley commented: “I am very fond of him, as we all are, and my family are very fond of him because he’s a very good doctor and we are delighted that he is back.”
Another woman named Jane, travelled down from Brittas Bay to be in attendance and she said “I just wanted to express my gratitude to him in person and it’s good to have him back”.
She said it would be devastating for the community if they lost him as their GP. Another woman from Wicklow, Kerry, from Glenealy, also travelled down although she is not a patient and said her reason for being there was to “just show support”.
Jenny Ui She is an osteopath based in Gorey and she said “it’s amazing to have him back”.
“This is a great day and it’s wonderful to see him back here again,” she said, while another person in attendance, Tina Ralph, said “everyone is so grateful to him for everything he has done for his patients”.
Tina, who is no relation to Dr Ralph despite having the same surname, went on to comment: “It’s really fantastic to have him back here and that’s why these people turned up here, to give him their support.”
Meanwhile, another patient of the doctor, Noeleen Murphy, said “he is just a great doctor who really cares about his patients” while a man called Peppy said said Dr Ralph is someone who “respects other people’s rights and opinions and their point of view”.
"We need more doctors and people like him in the community,” he added, while a local taxi driver, Tony Close, said “I wouldn’t have my licence if it wasn’t for Dr Ralph”.
The doctor’s secretary, Ann Nolan, also spoke to this newspaper and outlined what it would mean if the area lost the services of Dr Ralph.
"It means the world to have him back here again,” said Ms Nolan.
“He is the best doctor I have ever worked for and the kindest person I know,” she added.
“He has time for everybody, young and old, rich or poor and he’s very good with children.”
Ms Nolan said the crowd in attendance was indicative of what it means to the local community to have his services available to them.
“Everyone is so ecstatic to see him coming back and he just has a way with people that nobody else has,” she said.
“He loves poor people and people of every background, it doesn’t make any difference to him he treats everybody the very same,” she added.
When asked what it would mean to the community to lose him as their doctor, Ms Nolan said: “Everybody would be devastated and he is just too good of a doctor to lose, no matter where he is, he is just too good of a doctor to lose.”
“He is a very well educated man and he knows how to talk to people and how to relate to people,” said Ms Nolan.
“He is not a money man, far from it, and is just excellent with people and knows how to relate to people young and old,” she added.
“In this day and age with the price of everything going up and the way the economy is there has been a lot of ups and downs and people in hardship and people are finding it difficult to cope, particularly younger couples with kids and mortgages, and he relates to all of that and he just helps everybody like that and we even get on to him for not charging enough, which is unreal in doctors’ surgeries.”
"To us he is everything and all his patients idolise him,” she said.
“He won’t say anything unless he’s researched it and what he says makes sense.”
Dr Ralph spoke briefly to this newspaper before he entered his surgery and admitted to being taken aback by the reception.
Visibly surprised he said it was really good to see the people there to greet him and that it was good to get back to his practice.
“I didn’t expect this but it's nice to see the support and I really appreciate it,” he said.
“I’m a little surprised to be honest, it was very unexpected.”
The result of the probe into Dr Ralph by the IMC is expected to be published today [Wednesday] and it stems from a submission made to the IMC after a patient receiving a vaccination jab in the Enniscorthy Covid-19 vaccination hub allegedly informed a doctor that he was a patient of Dr Ralph’s and that he had advised him and his wife not to get the vaccine.
It’s believed that one part of the submission to the IMC was based around the patient informing the attending doctor that Dr Ralph had said getting the vaccination could affect the couple’s DNA and fertility.
However, Dr Ralph emphatically denies saying that and told this newspaper: “It’s an mRNA product that doesn’t enter the nucleus of the cell so from a biological perspective it would be impossible for it to affect their DNA."
He also said he isn’t aware of any strong evidence to suggest the vaccine should be avoided because it could affect fertility and doesn’t recall advising any of his patients to avoid it on those grounds.
Regarding giving precautionary advice to a pregnant patient Dr Ralph said such an approach is the prudent one to take when prescribing in pregnancy.
In his response to the IMC’s probe and in particular what the person who made the submission is alleged to have been told by the patient he said he doesn’t give direct advice and “as per good clinical practice” he informs patients about what is known regarding a particular treatment so they themselves can then make their own informed decision.
In addition to the show of support from the public to his return to work a campaign was also launched in recent weeks involving people making submissions to the IMC asking for it to drop its investigation into Dr Ralph.