The RCGP has decided that it would no longer accept Babylon Health to sponsor its annual conference after the college accused the private company of using this year’s conference ‘as a platform for hosting a recruitment event’.
The RCGP said they made the decision that they would not appoint Babylon as a sponsor next year if the company applied.
They took the decision after Babylon emailed GPs advertising a separate recruitment event it was holding, but linked it to this year’s RCGP conference.
At the conference in Liverpool this year, Dr Mobasher Butt, Babylon’s medical director, and associate medical director Dr Matt Noble led a sponsored session entitled: ‘Replacing GPs with chatbots – will AI take our jobs?’, and the company held an exhibitor stand.
But, prior to the conference, it sent an email to GPs titled ‘babylon @ RCGP’, which stated: ‘Babylon are pleased to announce we are sponsoring the RCGP Annual Conference this year and we would love to see you there!
‘The day we arrive in Liverpool, we will be holding an assessment evening at the Staybridge Hotel, Liverpool between 6-9pm for prospective Babylon GPs, so if you are interested in joining Babylon, please email… to reserve your place to be interviewed by one of ourmedical leadership team.’
It then went on to explain it had a stand at the main conference event, and was hosting the ‘chatbots’ debate.
However, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, vice chair of the RCGP, said the college was only made aware of the recruitment event after members of the council, who received the email, alerted the RCGP.
Professor Hawthorne said: ‘At a time when hardworking GPs are feeling the impact of GP shortages on a daily basis, we are extremely disappointed that Babylon chose to use our conference as a platform for hosting a recruitment event that could potentially lure more GPs away from the NHS.’
She added that the conference aims to reflect ‘the changing face of general practice, which is why we accepted Babylon’s offer of sponsorship in good faith’.
But, she said: ‘This move placed our relationship in a precarious position and, after a formal investigation and careful consideration, we have decided that we will not be accepting Babylon sponsorship for our annual conference in 2018.’
The decision comes after Babylon was accused of ‘cherry-picking’ patients by offering an online ‘GP at Hand’ service as a replacement to regular GP practices across London.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard warned, at the time, that the scheme ‘is undoubtedly luring GPs away from frontline general practice at a time when we are facing a severe workforce crisis’.
Babylon declined to comment on this story.
Email in full: ‘Babylon@RCGP’
Babylon are pleased to announce we are sponsoring the RCGP annual conference this year and we would love to see you there!
Wednesday 11th October
The day we arrive in Liverpool, we will be holding an assessment evening at the Staybridge Hotel, Liverpool between 6-9pm for prospective Babylon GPs, so if you are interested in joining Babylon, please email me… to reserve your place to be interviewed by one of our Medical Leadership team.
Thursday 12th-Friday 13th October
We will be exhibiting at the RCGP Annual conference and you can visit babylons stand (F15) at the ACC Conference Venue anytime throughout these days.
As well as this, our Medical Leadership team will be giving two speeches entitled: ‘Replacing GPs with chatbots- will AI take our jobs?’
Babylon refer a GP scheme
If you know of any other GPs who may be interested in attending, do let me know also as you will be due a referral fee of up to £3,000 if they join.
Interested in joining Babylon but unable to attend?
No problem, simply reply to this email with your CV and we shall invite you to a digital interview you can complete from home.