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Why we should keep within our boundaries

The Government seems to like nothing better than provoking GPs, but even by its confrontational standards, last week was shocking. As practices struggled to contain an unprecedented surge in demand for the flu vaccine, Dr David Salisbury, the Department of Health's head of immunisation, had the gall to blame GPs for the shortages.

He insisted the Government had allowed for 14 million vaccinations, three million more than fell into target groups, only for GPs to fritter them away on the 'worried well'.

Except Dr Salisbury had got his figures completely, embarrassingly and appallingly wrong. Only 11 million patients needed the flu vaccine, he claimed. But that was the figure for England only; he had forgotten about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Government incompetence

Not only that, but as Pulse reveals this week, he had also excluded health care professionals and even managed to forget about the Government's brand-new target group, the carers. A three million leeway turned overnight into a shortfall of perhaps a million vaccines or more.

All of a sudden the Government has quietly forgotten about those irresponsible GPs and their pesky worried well, and is mumbling excuses for its own incompetence.

But it is not enough to simply be right and be vindicated. Dr Salisbury did GPs a grave disservice and in doing so showed precisely no understanding of the difficulties they are undergoing in the current panic over flu. He owes GPs, at the very least, a unreserved apology.

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