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RCGP ‘tried to ban half the candidates in presidential race’

Three of the six leading GPs standing in the RCGP presidential election were originally barred from standing and were only reinstated after legal advice, it has emerged.

Dr Una Coales, an RCGP Council member and one of the six candidates standing, claimed in her blog this week that the college's nominations committee banned half of the candidates now in the race from standing last month, with one candidate told they were ‘not fit and proper' for the role.

The RCGP would not comment on the reasons for the bans, or confirm the names of the three candidates concerned, whom Pulse has decided not to identify.

This year's tightly-contested race includes former GPC chair Dr John Chisholm, Dr Coales, North West Deanery postgraduate dean Professor Jacky Hayden, Bristol GP Dr Terry Kemple, Department of Health QIPP lead Sir John Oldham and former RCGP chair Professor Mike Pringle.

Dr Coales said that the three candidates were initially told they would not be put forward for the ballot, despite having been sponsored by 12 members or fellows of the college, in an email from the RCGP Nominations Committee on 16 April.  

But following an appeal from two of the three candidates concerned, RCGP chief executive Neil Hunt later wrote to the candidates and said he had decided as Returning Officer of the college to reinstate all three.

In an email to one candidates, quoted on Dr Coales' blog, Mr Hunt wrote: ‘I have sought advice on this matter from the College's constitutional lawyer, who has confirmed to me that the provision contained in the bye-laws over-rides the scrutiny powers given to the Nominations Committee. For this reason, I, as the Returning Officer for the College, have decided to rule that all the nominated candidates should be put forward on the ballot.

‘I would like to offer my apologies for the uncertainty and distress this process has caused you. The process which was instituted in good faith followed the clear remit of the Nominations Committee, but I have decided that the process was flawed and therefore should not proceed.'

An RCGP spokesperson refused to discuss the three candidates' ban or provide any further details, and said only: ‘All candidates who have submitted valid nomination forms are standing in the election for RCGP President, which starts on Monday 14 May, and closes at noon on Friday 1 June.'

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP chair, said she was also unable to comment, but said: ‘We've had more candidates for the presidency than we have ever had before.'

Dr Coales' blog also reveals that there was an error in the RCGP Council representative election in 2009, where the wrong seventh-placed candidate was elected.

Dr Gerada said: ‘Yes, there was an error but it was addressed. It was an error around the single transferable voting system. It was sorted out amicably.'