Philippa Whitford

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Philippa Whitford
Official portrait of Dr Philippa Whitford MP crop 2.jpg
SNP Spokesperson for Health and Social Care
Assumed office
20 May 2015
LeaderAngus Robertson
Ian Blackford
Preceded byPosition established
SNP Spokesperson for Exiting the European Union
In office
7 January 2020 – 31 January 2020
LeaderIan Blackford
Preceded byPeter Grant
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of Parliament
for Central Ayrshire
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byBrian Donohoe
Majority5,304 (11.4%)
Personal details
Born (1958-12-24) 24 December 1958 (age 63)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political partyScottish National Party
Hans Pieper
(m. 1987)
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow

Dr Philippa Whitford (born 24 December 1958) is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician and a breast surgeon. She was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Ayrshire in May 2015 and was re-elected in 2017 and 2019.[1]

She is the SNP Health spokesperson in the House of Commons.

Early life and education[edit]

Whitford was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland to Elizabeth and Philip Whitford.[2] The family moved to Scotland when she was aged ten.[3] She was educated at Wood Green: St Angela's Providence Convent Secondary School in London and Douglas Academy in Milngavie, before studying at the University of Glasgow, where she graduated with medical degrees. She was the first woman in her family to gain admission to university.[3]


Surgical career[edit]

Whitford worked as a consultant breast surgeon at Crosshouse Hospital for more than 18 years.[2]

Just after the First Gulf War and during the First Palestinian Intifada at the age of thirty, Whitford served for a year and a half as a medical volunteer in a UN hospital in Gaza.[4] She spent the 2016 parliamentary recess travelling to the West Bank to operate on four women suffering from breast cancer, and visited the Gaza Strip to advise local hospitals on how to improve healthcare.[5]

Political career[edit]

Whitford joined the Scottish National Party in 2012. She became involved with the campaign preceding the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. She advocated independence as a way of protecting NHS Scotland from the same kind of "creeping privatisation agenda undermining services in England".[6] An online video of her claiming the NHS in England would be privatised within five years and in Scotland within ten went viral at this time.[7]

“In five years, England will not have an NHS and in 10 years, if we vote no, neither will we," she said.[6]

House of Commons[edit]

Whitford was selected to contest Central Ayrshire for the SNP at the 2015 general election. She polled 26,999 votes – 53.2% of the vote – defeating the incumbent Labour MP, Brian Donohoe, by 13,589 votes.[8] She made her maiden speech in the House of Commons on 2 June 2015.[9]

She was a member of the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, but left the committee on 11 March 2019 to be replaced by Liz Saville Roberts.[10]

In August 2020 after the SNP's rules on candidate selection were changed, meaning MPs seeking election to Holyrood would have to resign their seat at Westminster, Whitford tweeted "For ALL @theSNP MPs - now trapped at Westminster with no straightforward way to put themselves forward for Scotland’s own Parliament. No one ever mentioned this before any of us stood for Westminster."[11][12] The tweet provoked an angry response from political opponents, with Labour's Monica Lennon responding that, "Representing your community is a privilege and responsibility like no other... If SNP MPs feel ‘trapped’ they should release themselves and let others serve."[13]

In March 2021 Whitford compared Scotland's position as part of the United Kingdom to a woman “locked” in a room and who had had her cheque book “taken away”. The remarks were condemned as "appalling" by Scottish Labour's Deputy leader Jackie Baillie who said: "There is a constant challenge to ensure that domestic abuse is taken seriously and for the gravity of such offences to be properly recognised, so no one, let alone an MP, should ever trivialise the matter by making such throw away comments which will have deeply offended people."[14]

Personal life[edit]

Whitford has been married to Hans Pieper, a German citizen who works as a general practitioner, since 1987; the couple have a son together.[3][15]


  • Dr Philippa Whitford
  • Dr Philippa Whitford MP (2015–present)


  1. ^ "Election 2015: Ayrshire Central, Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Whitford, Dr Philippa". Whitford, Dr Philippa, (Born 24 Dec. 1958), MP (SNP) Central Ayrshire, since 2015. Who's Who. 2015. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u283863. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Brown, Annie (10 July 2014). "Independence referendum: Top surgeon becomes viral hit after making impassioned plea to vote Yes to save the NHS". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  4. ^ Jefferson, Rodney (25 March 2015). "The Scottish Streets Where a U.K. Election Will Be Won or Lost". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  5. ^ Dyke, Joe (8 April 2016). "British MP performs cancer surgery for Palestinian women". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b Clarke, Sandy (5 February 2015). "Consultant breast surgeon Dr Philippa Whitford is selected as SNP candidate to battle for the Central Ayrshire seat in May's General Election". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Scotland's new MPs". Bailiwick Express. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2015.
  8. ^ "Election 2015: Ayrshire Central". BBC News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  9. ^ Dr Philippa Whitford (2 June 2015). "Health and Social Care". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. col. 477–479.
  10. ^ "New appointments this week in UK politics, the civil service and public affairs". PoliticsHome. 11 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Edinburgh Central battle continues as Philippa Whitford hits out at rule change".
  12. ^ "Tweet". Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Tweet". Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  14. ^ "Independence 'unhappy marriage' comparison defended by Ayrshire MP - Daily Record".
  15. ^ "Whitford, Dr Philippa, (born 24 Dec. 1958), MP (SNP) Central Ayrshire, since 2015". Who's Who. 2015. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.283863.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Central Ayrshire