Dr Patrick French: ‘I’d love to be an MP and change the NHS back’
PUBLISHED: 12:12 12 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:12 12 December 2014
Between 1922 and 2010, the Labour Party boasted a medical doctor among its benches for consecutive parliaments until the departure of GP and former Dartmouth MP Dr Howard Stoate in 2010 left them without one.
Consultant physician Dr Patrick French, a specialist in the treatment of HIV, believes the return of a doctor’s expertise in the Labour parliamentary machine is badly needed.
Dr French, who is on the shortlist of candidates bidding to stand as Labour’s replacement for outgoing Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson, says he is tired of the “adversarial” approach brought to politics by a swarm of lawyers who have been elected to the House of Commons from all parties.
“I spend my time collaborating with my patients, colleagues, local authorities and charities to make life and death decisions about care,” he explains.
“I think that collaborative approach might be useful in politics.”
The 53-year-old, who is chairman of Highgate Labour Party and heads a clinical team at University College Hospital (UCH), was born to Labour-supporting parents in the front room of the former family home in Willow Road, Hampstead.
He went to Gospel Oak Primary School then William Ellis School before studying medicine at the University of Liverpool.
During nearly 25 years at UCH, he has become one of the country’s foremost HIV experts and established a weekly clinic in 1995 in Hampstead Road, Euston, for the homeless and those with drug and alcohol problems, which continues to this day.
The father-of-three is a close neighbour of Labour leader Ed Miliband, living with his wife and younger son in Dartmouth Park. His daughter and older son are both at university.
Having been a Labour Party member for 20 years, Dr French says the introduction of the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Act in 2012 was his “tipping point” into full blown activism.
“There has been a whole challenge to the notion that you have open access to the NHS,” he says. “I’d love to get into parliament and change the NHS back.
“If at the end of a term, the NHS was no longer a political football, that would be it for me. I would come back to being a doctor.”
Dr French will join four other candidates vying for selection as Labour parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras at a final hustings tomorrow.