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Haslam attacks 'irresponsible' MMR drama

A Channel 5 docudrama about MMR and autism was 'extremely irresponsible' and will reinforce the worries some parents have about the vaccine, warns Professor David Haslam, chair of the RCGP.

A statement from the RCGP, signed by Professor Haslam and leading experts

in epidemiology and child health, condemned the drama for giving an 'entirely unbalanced picture' of the MMR debate and making 'doctors appear as abrupt, uncaring creatures who appear to positively dislike children'.

Some 1.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the controversial docudrama last month centring on the work of Dr Andrew Wakefield and his suggestions of a link between MMR and autism. Only 600,000 viewers watched a prerecorded debate screened after the programme.

Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, a GP in north London who has a child with autism, signed the RCGP statement opposing the docudrama but took part in the debate to 'challenge' the anti-MMR contingent.

He described the docudrama as an 'outrage' and said he sympathised with colleagues who boycotted the debate.

Professor Haslam said it was very difficult to tell what effects the drama would have on MMR uptake but the RCGP is urging anyone with worries about the vaccine to seek advice from their GP.

The Health Protection Agency refused to take part because the drama 'completely ignores the overwhelming body of research that supports the safety of MMR vaccine'.

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