Is There a Doctor in the House?

Peter Russell

December 13, 2019

More than 50 doctors stood as parliamentary candidates in the general election.

In a poll which saw sweeping gains for Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, two former Tories who defected to the Liberal Democrats paid for their decision by being ousted from Parliament.

Dr Sarah Wollaston

Dr Sarah Wollaston, a GP, and former chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, switched allegiances to Change UK in February, before joining the Liberal Democrats in August.

Despite increasing the Lib Dem vote share, it was not enough to prevent the Conservatives taking her Totnes seat.

As the polls opened on Thursday, she took aim at Mr Johnson on Twitter, saying "If Britain elects a clown, expect a circus."

Dr Phillip Lee

Fellow Conservative defector, Dr Phillip Lee, also failed to win for the Liberal Democrats.

The part-time Berkshire GP was a former Conservative minister who crossed the floor of the Commons because he disagreed with the party's policies on Brexit.

Having previously held the safe Conservative seat of Bracknell, Dr Lee gave Conservative incumbent and veteran Brexiteer, Sir John Redwood, a run for his money by increasing the Liberal Democrat share of the vote by 21.7% in the neighbouring seat of Wokingham.

After the results were announced, a victorious Sir John, who saw his share of the vote fall 7.1% on the 2017 result, remarked pointedly: "I trust we won’t lose Phillip Lee from public service as now he has the opportunity to be a full-time general practitioner."

Other Results

In other results, Dr Paul Williams, a GP and former Labour MP, lost his seat to the Conservatives in what turned out to be a depressing night for his party in the north of England.

Dr Williams was chief executive of the 40-practice Hartlepool and Stockton Health GP Federation. At Westminster he was a member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

His slim Labour majority of 888 was overturned by a Conservative one of 5260 in Stockton South.

There was better news for Labour in Tooting, where Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, an A&E doctor at St George's Hospital in London, retained her seat. She campaigned with a warning that the Conservatives would sell off vital NHS services.

Dr David Bull, health spokesperson for the Brexit Party, took 8.5% of the vote in Tony Blair's old seat of Sedgefield where the Conservatives took the seat from Labour.

The former emergency medicine doctor, known for his broadcasting career, pushed into fourth place the Liberal Democrat candidate, who lost her deposit.

Among other results today:

  • Philippa Whitford, a consultant breast cancer surgeon, held Central Ayrshire for the Scottish National Party (SNP) with a 9.0% increased share of the vote, seeing off a Conservative challenge by former Aberdeen, Dunfermline, and Dundee United goalkeeper Derek Stillie

  • Dr Dan Poulter, an NHS psychiatrist, was re-elected as the Conservative MP for Suffolk Central & Ipswich North, with an increased majority

  • Labour's Dr Adrian Heald, a diabetes consultant from Manchester, endured a 7.9% swing away from his party as the Conservative's held Mid-Norfolk

  • GP James Davies won Vale of Clwyd for the Conservatives from Labour with a majority of 1827

  • Former GP Dr Liam Fox, who has held several ministerial posts, retained North Somerset for the Conservatives

  • Dr Caroline Johnson, a consultant paediatrician, retained her seat of Sleaford & North Hykeham for the Conservatives

  • Dr Scott Mabbutt, a maternity doctor at Northampton General Hospital, lost his deposit as the Green Party came fourth with only 3.0% of the vote in the Conservative seat of Northampton South


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