New Brunswick doctors are accusing the regional health authorities of trying to silence doctors in an effort to avoid public criticism and embarrassment.

The accusation comes after a draft set of new bylaws was widely leaked.

Dr. Bob Rae, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said the proposed rules are unacceptable.

"They are Draconian," said Rae. "These bylaws were written without physicians at all. These were written by lawyers and by administrators to try to deal with physicians."

Opposition Health Critic Bill Fraser is calling on the health minister to remove the paragraphs that say any statements or actions that are "reasonably likely to be detrimental to the RHA -- could result in punishment."

"Disciplinary action, or penalties may include dismissal from the medical staff," Fraser quoted from the document. "We’re very, very concerned about that bylaw."

Health Minister Madeline Dube said the bylaws are nothing to be concerned about.

But Rae disagrees.

"We’ve lost our ability to a significant degree to advocate within the hospital environment. It has become a very much more cloistered small group, and we’ve been shunned to the outside. And these bylaws do just that, much more so."

Horizon Health sent an email statement to the CBC saying the bylaws are a working document that would apply to both health networks – Horizon and Vitalite.

"We do not interpret the bylaws as impacting on physician-patient advocacy," the statement said.

But critics say the document is push-back following some public challenges.

Doctors in Saint John have recently spoken out against the decision to allow Canadian Blood Services to remove some of its services from New Brunswick.  They were also vocal about a lack of access to operating rooms. And, the doctors loudly opposed the government’s initial position to deny Saint John a high-resonance imaging machine called a 3T MRI.