The RCGP has withdrawn its invitation for Julia Hartley-Brewer to speak at its upcoming annual conference, following criticism from GPs.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