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GPs have attacked Government plans to introduce personal health trainers for patients in disadvantaged areas as a 'gimmick'.
The Department of Health said health trainers, who will provide diet and lifestyle advice, would be introduced in 12 areas initially and rolled out across the country by 2007.
The plan was announced at the same time as a Government report identified widening health inequalities between rich and poor since Labour came to power.
Dr Nick Summerton, a GP in Hull, one of the 12 areas, said the trainers were a gimmick: 'The best measure of inequalities is child health and I can't see how this is going to impact on that. It's headline grabbing but a fat lot of use.'
Dr Fay Wilson, a GP in Birmingham, another of the areas, said the trainers would not address the fundamental causes of health inequalities. She said: 'Health inequalities are not related to who's got a personal trainer but who's got work, housing or education.'