Extinction Rebellion Protest Doctors 'Shouldn’t be Struck Off'

Anna Sayburn

October 28, 2019

LIVERPOOL - Doctors attending Extinction Rebellion (XR) events need reassurance that they won't be struck off if they are arrested for taking non-violent direct action, delegates at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference in Liverpool heard.

In a question and answer session after a seminar on greener general practice, delegates asked how organisations like the college could support doctors taking direct action.

"Yesterday Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, said that doctors should get involved with Extinction Rebellion", said one delegate. "How can GP bodies support this?"

Richard Horton said in a video released on Twitter: "The GMC, based on its own documentation [Duties of a Doctor], should be fully supportive of all health professionals who engage in non-violent social protest."


Dr Aarti Bansal, Sheffield GP and chair of the Greener Practice organisation, pointed out that the college had already agreed to declare a climate emergency and already supported the aim of fighting climate change.

"What XR and all the civil disobedience is saying is: This is about life. And I think the college can support that. We're about health. You can support the purpose of it."

Dr Honey Smith, a GP member of Greener Practice and GP tutor, said the difference between Extinction Rebellion and other groups pushing for action on climate change was "like the difference between the suffragettes and suffragists", using different tactics for the same ends. "The suffragists did a lot of the hard work behind the scenes but everyone remembers the suffragettes because they made a lot of noise."  

She said "we need both" and she had started to attend Extinction Rebellion demonstrations herself.

Dr Basal said after the session that she believed the GMC should agree not to strike doctors off for taking part in protests.


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