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Chloramphenicol is totally unsuitable OTC

Another Big Idea from the Department of Ludicrous Initiatives: personal lifestyle advisers for all those patients who choose to scoff baps full of assorted cattle products or whose idea of exercise is driving their SRV over a bumpy road.

Changing inappropriate behaviour on an industrial scale is going to involve an awful lot of lifestyle gurus.

I suspect that most of this work will find its way back to the GP in the same way that we have to cope with the effects of the unavailability of NHS dental care and repeatedly postponed hospital appointments.

This will be a pity. It is well documented that the most potent agent for changing damaging habits is the GP, although judging by the number of folk lurching around who seem to be about 500 calories short of bursting point I'm not sure how effective we actually are.

There's certainly not much point asking someone to stop smoking or to eat less when their spouse has walked out or they have just been evicted from their house.

On the other hand, I bumped into a young mother with her two children in the Co-op the other day, all tucking into a £1.99 breakfast that looked like a mess of malignant biochemistry. 'Not worth dirtying yer pans for at this price,' she said.

The lifestyle police have been set quite a challenge.

Dr Rod Manton

Marple

Cheshire

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