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GPs step up MMR fight as uptake dives

GPs view poor patients as uglier than those who are better off, according to a new study.

Researchers suggested their findings might explain why patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds got worse care, although they admitted it was an 'outrageous' leap.

The study found GPs rated poorer patients as less attractive and that being poor added the equivalent of 30 years to a patient's appearance.

The authors concluded: 'There is a good case for believing that subliminal stereotyping is overriding medical training and the desire by GPs for neutrality.'

Dr Dermot O'Reilly, senior lecturer in public health at Queen's University Belfast, said his study showed GPs were human. 'We have not shown it affects how people are treated but there is enough circumstantial evidence that that is the case,' he said.

But RCGP examiner Dr Peter Tate, author of The Doctor's Communication Handbook, said he suspected the findings were 'old hat' and that other professionals would behave in the same way.

Researchers analysed how 30 GPs rated the attractiveness of patients and presented the results at the Society for Social Medicine conference earlier this month.

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