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RCGP withdraws invitation for Julia Hartley-Brewer to speak at conference

The RCGP has withdrawn its invitation for Julia Hartley-Brewer to speak at its upcoming annual conference, following criticism from GPs.

The organisation said it had 'become clear that some of the views she has expressed are too much at odds with the core values of RCGP and our members, and our work to promote inclusivity within the profession & among patients'.

The decision comes after GP Survival founder Dr Alan Woodall set up a petition deeming Ms Hartley-Brewer’s inclusion at the RCGP event as an ‘insult to the thousands of international doctors who have come to work as GPs in the NHS’.

The petition, which attracted over 700 signatures, highlighted that the broadcaster 'has expressed views that are highly controversial regarding immigration' and called for the RCGP to revoke its invitation. 

Dr Woodall also condemned comments made by Ms Hartley-Brewer in which she said she could not see anything wrong with Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech.

Meanwhile, other GPs have threatened to withdraw their RCGP membership if Ms Hartley-Brewer appeared at the conference.

In a statement issued today, the RCGP said: ‘We have written to Julia Hartley-Brewer withdrawing her invite to speak at RCGPAC. It has become clear that some of the views she has expressed are too much at odds with the core values of RCGP and our members, and our work to promote inclusivity within the profession & among patients.’

An RCGP spokesperson also 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 – and we remain committed to putting together a programme that challenges our thinking and encompasses a broad range of views.

‘But further social media posts have come to light that we were unaware of when we invited Julia Hartley-Brewer to speak as part of a panel that are not conducive to the work we are doing to promote inclusivity within the profession and amongst patients, so we have made the decision to cancel her invitation to RCGPAC.

‘Free speech is a cornerstone of our society and unless they are speaking in an official College capacity, speakers at our annual conference do not necessarily represent the views of the RCGP. But we are also an organisation committed to upholding the core values of the profession and of our members, and it has become clear that some of her views are too much at odds with these.’

Other speakers planned for the conference 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.

Previously, the RCGP said its conference speakers ‘do not necessarily’ reflect RCGP views and that Ms Hartley-Brewer was invited because she is the daughter of an NHS GP, as well as to ‘provoke debate’ on issues concerning general practice.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said at the time: ‘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.'

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

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

 

Readers' comments (50)

  • Is this whats known as a 'flip' in the world of politics? i guess Euston Road couldn't have afforded to loose 700 members..... esp if membership has dropped 400 through retirement.
    Im not sure they should have backed out.... it would have made the conference a lot more lively, they could have had Jeremy Kyle host it as I hear he's been looking for new work.... and everyone could have brought a milkshake with them!

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  • Oh dear. Just when you think the College couldn't get more incompetent, they do this. As others have said, JHB is hardly a raging fascist. I do hope that Corbyn et al get the same treatment in view of their lack of support of Venezuelan doctors and their toils against a corrupt government and the persecution of Chines doctors who speak out. I am neither left or right wing but this sets an important precedent.

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  • Sadly this is yet another illustration of the fact that the most intolerant group of people in British society are the so called 'Liberal Left'. They are determined to ensure that those who do not agree fully with their views are silenced.

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  • As usual, the doublespeak is strong. "Our work to promote INCLUSION", by EXCLUSION of alternate viewpoints.

    If the 'insulted' were going to withdraw their membership, instead of doing the mature thing by challenging her views directly at the conference itself -
    1. their membership couldn't have meant much to them in the first place
    2. it is the equivalent of the baby throwing their toys out of the pram.
    3. and their promotion of their own 'echo chamber' makes them look even worse.
    4. Maybe they never had a great counter argument in the first place.
    5. Ironically, Julia's profile has been increased amongst GPs at least. Talk about free publicity...

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  • The end of freedom of speech. This is no different to the no platforming that is going on at universities.
    How many of the 700 signatures actually researched Julia’s comments rather than responded to what they were told about them by Dr Woodall.
    Good science is about listening to all voices and all the evidence and being a good GP is about not being judgemental.
    How does this fit in with your acceptance of large sums of money from someone who already believed in homosexuality (I call it love) being a criminal offence.
    Is this concern about the loss of membership fees.
    And finally what do the vast majority of the members think rather than the 700.
    You could have invited the petitioner onto the platform - that would have been fairer.
    And did you ask Julia to respond to Dr Woodall’s comments.

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  • And these were the original comments I posted to Dr Woodall’s article

    You are rightly angry about the label that was attached to you but do you not think there is a problem when you attaching a label of fascism to someone, when fascism is something we associate with Hitler and Franco, people who actually murdered millions.

    Do you think your article exhibits a certain amount of hate for someone and have you never said anything that Julia has said that you would be embarrassed about? There is much more to every person than one thing they have said.

    Hope that you are not this judgemental and unforgiving with patients.

    I get hurt frequently. That is what free speech is about, not just hearing the nice things.

    Finally if I was the RCGP, I would would invite you to this years conference to do a presentation and then questions and answers.

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  • Agree with above ..... pathetic response from college and very sorry state of affairs ......
    Intolerant “ liberal left” reign!

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  • pathetic

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  • The mystery is why anyone attends this festival of fatuity.

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  • This is pretty extreme. I have just cancelled my membership because of the intolerant views of the RCGP..

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