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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)

  • Vinci Ho

    (1)Politics is about convincing people in the public as well as your colleagues. This is something those who are both inside and outside an establishment must learn . Whether one is the ‘elite’ representing the establishment or the ‘people’ in the rebel group , this learning process is a prerequisite for maturity and humility.
    (2) One interesting question appearing on the horizon in this most chaotic time of world history is , ‘ Exactly what is the definition of freedom of speech?’ Well , we certainly have an American President who loves his ‘freedom of speech’ on Tweeter . And when our previous Chancellor said in the public that he wanted to chop Auntie May into pieces and stored them inside a refrigerator, he enjoyed the euphoria to ‘express’ himself in words .
    (3) So where is this respect of people as a rational being and we must , according to Immanuel Kant, ‘always treat people as ends in themselves, never as means to an end.’ And clearly , it is our natural reflex to retaliate if someone doesn’t respect us . Easy said than done , isn’t it ?🤨😜😄
    Direct personal assault and character assassination(defamation is , by default, even breaking the law) are certainly not in the context of freedom of speech . This is something I have learnt throughout the years and keep warning myself everyday. Call me silly, if you like 😄

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  • I have heard her on LBC and Question Time. Unaware of her views on immigration. I find her irritating to listen to but she is hardly Tommy Robinson.

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  • Would her attendance incur severe melting amongst the snowflakes who wish to ban free speech?
    Doctors are supposed to professional, resilient and open minded. Opinions should be reached after not before a conversation.

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  • up in arms brigade

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  • Maybe global warming will reduce snowflake formation. Listen and rebut (or possibly change your views if you discover you are wrong. You need open ears and open minds. BTW in response to the suggestion, ironic I trust, that Clare Marx be de-platformed, she didn't join the GMC until after the Bawa-Garba case so cannot be blamed for the sins of her predecessors.

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  • So she knew precisely what sort of organisation she was joining, but chose to join anyway?
    Is that supposed to be a defense, because it reads as an admission of guilt?

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  • agree with lifeboat:- this is an opportunity for GPs to educate the broadcaster in question, but not sure the same could be saud for the health minister!

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  • up in arms brigade

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  • Why would anyone still pay £500 to be a member of the RCPG? beggars belief...

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  • God help us all! Finally agree with the RCGP for once. I would have a lot more sympathy with such protests if they didn't smell of partisanship. I don't like her views either but nor do I like the views of Corbyn who supports terrorism and evil regimes who restrict medical treatment to Party members or to those who have embezzled enough money to have treatment abroad......? Venezuela ?? Is the same group going to campaign against Russian homophobia? Thought not. Same old, same old, the right wing want to shut up the left and the left want to shut up the right. Sounds like the protesting GP group have too much time on their hands.

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