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GP petition threatens RCGP resignation due to 'controversial' conference speaker

A petition has been launched in protest of a ‘controversial’ journalist being invited to speak at the RCGP annual conference.

GP grassroots campaigners GP Survival launched the petition insisting the RCGP revoke the invitation of journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer due to her ‘highly controversial’ views on immigration.

The petition says: 'We call on the RCGP to revoke this invitation and our signature below indicates that those of us who are members will consider resignation from the RCGP or boycott the conference if she is allowed a platform for her views.'

GP Survival founder Dr Alan Woodall, who set up the petition, said on the petition page that Ms Hartley-Brewer’s inclusion at this year’s annual RCGP conference is an ‘insult to the thousands of international doctors who have come to work as GPs in the NHS'.

But the RCGP has said speakers invited to their annual conference 'do not necessarily' reflect RCGP views and that the purpose of Ms Hartley-Brewer's invitation was because she is the daughter of an NHS GP and also to 'provoke debate' on issues related to general practice.

Dr Woodall condemned statements that the broadcaster had previously expressed via social media that she could not see anything wrong with Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech and asked the RCGP to remove Ms Hartley-Brewer as a speaker.

At the time of publication, the petition had passed 100 signatures.

Other speakers set for the conference in October include health secretary Matt Hancock, GMC chair Dame Clare Marx and Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘A key purpose of the RCGP Annual Conference is to provoke debate about a wide range of issues impacting on general practice, the wider NHS and patient care. Delegates are not expected to agree with everything they hear – indeed the conference is an opportunity to challenge views they disagree with – but it is important that we explore issues from a variety of perspectives, including controversial ones.

‘We strongly condemn the tweet in question – and Julia Hartley-Brewer will have other views that will not be in line with college policy or our core values. But she has been invited to speak at our conference as part of a Q&A panel as a mainstream broadcaster, who regularly discusses health issues on her radio show, and who is the daughter of an NHS GP.

‘Unless they are speaking in an official college capacity, speakers at our annual conference do not necessarily represent the views of the RCGP.’

The RCGP's actions have previously sparked debate among GPs who petitioned for the college to revoke the Sultan of Brunei's honorary title and 'significant' donation after the country made gay sex punishable by death.

Elsewhere, some deaneries in England are insisting GP trainers have an 'active' RCGP membership to become a trainer.

Julia Hartley Brewer responds to RCGP's decision and explains the context for her 2016 'Rivers Of Blood' tweet

Readers' comments (35)

  • Are we not a country of free speech anymore?

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  • Cobblers

    Wash my mouth out with soap, but on this I am with the RCGP.

    Should we only 'Allow' those with whom we agree to have a platform?

    'Prevent' those with whom we disagree in presenting their case and by so doing stop others from coming to a more considered opinion?

    #I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Evelyn Beatrice Hall

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  • Cobblers

    On this same theme.

    “Think for yourselves, and allow others the privilege to do so, too.”

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  • This is silly. I would much rather that they banned that nice but clueless Matt Hancock.

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  • "No Platforming" is one of the most insidious modern threats. The RCGP shouldn't back down to this virtue signalling.
    Free Speech rules and GP Survival have revealed themselves to have a very very nasty intolerant streak.
    The way to deal with people you don't agree with is to debate with them not to ban them.

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  • There does not appear to be any obligation to listen to her.

    Though perhaps anyone daft enough to fund this ghastly parasitic organisation deserves to be gagged and bound to their seat for the duration.

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  • If anyone should be no-platformed, then it should be Clare Marx in response to the GMC's appalling treatment of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba.

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  • If your not happy and can be bothered to go , walk out,slow hand clap or boo them.My protest is not to pay the RCGP or the BMA if only I could do it to the GMC I would be extremely happy

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  • please-delete-this-fucking-profile-i-cant-delete-it-in-my-account-settings

    this kind of thought fascism is rife in university - ban anyone you don't like, prevent then from speaking. stupid idiots , open debate is the mark of a free society, squashing anyone who doesn't conform is the mark of a totalitarian one, i know what kind of world these chumps want ..and they don't even know it

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  • Interestingly I met a retired Indian doctor who had friends who lived in the constituency run by Enoch Powell. When I quizzed him about how they had felt about him, assuming they would have found him abhorrent, they said he was an unfailingly supportive and caring man who never came across in any way racist.

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