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There's no sugar-coating the obesity strategy

As Public Health England tries to help with the Government’s battle of the bulge, the war on terror finally reaches GPs’ waiting rooms

You have to feel a slight pang of sympathy for Public Health England. It is obligated to defend an obesity strategy from the Government that looks like it was written on the back of a packet of very sugary cereal.

Commenting on the strategy – which asks the food and drink industry very politely to cut 5% of the sugar in products popular with children – chief executive Duncan Selbie told a meeting of public health colleagues that they should not see it as a ‘failure’.

Mr Selbie said the concessions the obesity strategy had already won had been a ‘big ask’ and that the public health community needed to know ‘when to say thank you’ to the Government.

Speaking at the PHE Annual Conference, he said: ‘You need to have more than the evidence, you need to be more than right. You have to win the consent of the people, and in a parliamentary democracy that means Parliament and Government, in a negotiation.’

Sick Notes agrees with Mr Selbie. It is time to thank the Government. To thank it for nothing after it produced a strategy that is not just a ‘failure’ – it is a betrayal of a generation.

Sick Notes has to applaud the latest offensive in the ‘war on terror’. An incursion into that well-known hotbed of radicalisation, GP surgery waiting rooms, was long overdue.

Pulse revealed last month that a new campaign will see anti-terrorism posters in six different languages appear in 1,000 practices across the UK. The posters – in Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Somali, English and Welsh – will be displayed in waiting rooms and are designed to combat the ‘growing problem of extremists targeting children’.

Many a teenager waiting longer than 20 minutes for their appointment slot has subsequently decided to travel to Syria to follow ISIS. And it is good to see this finally being tackled.

Sick Notes has all but given up hope of a high-flying journalism career and apparently more (ahem) ‘mature’ GPs are similarly nihilistic, according to new research in the BJGP.

Researchers from the University of Oxford found three to five years after graduation, 86% of bright shiny GP trainees are positive about their career prospects (compared with 53% of surgical trainees).

But 12-24 years after graduation, much of this optimism has turned to excrement. Only 60% of GPs remain positive about their career (compared with 77% of surgeons) and, say the authors, the misery is deeper among the males of the profession. Cheer up chaps, it might never happen. Oh it already did? Never mind…

Sick Notes could not love Sadiq Kahn more. London’s new Major demonstrated a nifty stand-up technique with an extraordinarily rude joke about health secretary Jeremy Hunt. We won’t ruin it here, because this joke is all about the deadpan delivery, but suffice to say Mr Kahn has a future on Michael Macintyre’s Big Show if the whole bossing-the-capital thing goes tits up.

GPs in Australia have been cooking up a Twitter storm. After a report identified ‘low-value GP consultations’ as responsible for a surge in healthcare costs, the profession has hit back with the hashtag #justaGP.

‘Excise skin cancers; wean off benzodiazepines; comfort a family following an unexpected death and other boring things #justaGP’ wrote one. ‘Phone call for suicidal patient 50 kms away. Safety plan. Suicide agreement. No charge. #justaGP’ wrote another.

And Sick Notes’ favourite: ‘Delivered premature twins in country because mum wasn’t going to make it to city. I’m #justaGP but they are all safe and well.’ Superb work, Australia (although still not sure about the hashtag).

PR fail of the month. Ever wondered if you need more magnesium? No.

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