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Media slurs have GPs in spin

LMCs are taking local action as requested by the GPC to counteract the current barrage of negative press against GPs.

Some GPs believe there is a concerted spin campaign by the Government against the profession and opinions are split over how the GPC should counter it through the media.

Londonwide LMCs and Wessex LMCs have produced letters and factsheets for GPs to adapt and send to journalists. Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, thought this was sufficient.

'Hamish does very good weekly briefings where he informs the press of the facts and figures. Our strength is we do not take part in spinning,' he said.

But Steve Mercer, chief executive of Avon LMCs, said the GPC should consider appointing a dedicated media-savvy GP representative to appeal to a mass audience.

'Now the Government is running health policy through the media, we need to develop a dedicated media front for the GPC,' he said.

'They need to be personable and someone the public feels comfortable with, and that the camera likes.'

He also suggested paying for advertorials in newspapers.

Dr Wally Frasier, LMC chair for Salford and Trafford, said: 'If we continue to hear this stream of misinformation fed to the press by the Government then we must consider the option of industrial action. I'm not talking about strikes, but we can just not play ball with things like Choose and Book,' he said.

Dr Brian Keighley, a GMC member and Glasgow GP, who has written several letters to the national press about misrepresentation of GPs, said: 'The problem is the people we are trying to influence seem to wilfully misunderstand anything we try to say.

'It is not just about selling newspapers, but must be part of a centrally co-ordinated campaign to do down our successes.'

• Positive spin, Letters, page 23

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