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GPs ‘set up to fail’ by reforms, GP leaders excluded from bill summit, and the perils of cheap booze

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Monday 20 February.

In light of the warning issued by BMA chair Dr Helmish Meldrum in the Times on Saturday that GPs were being ‘set up to fail' by the health bill, the Times (paywall) today reports that David Cameron will declare the Government's NHS reforms are ‘irreversible'. This is apparently his latest bid to ‘win round wavering medics and halt rumblings within the Conservative Party'. How better to win people round than to doggedly refuse to listen to their concerns?

Today, Mr Cameron will meet a group of health bill ‘moderates and enthusiasts' at Number 10, not including the RCGP or BMA - which have come out in opposition to the bill. The aim of the summit, the Times reports, is ‘to persuade GPs that there is sufficient support within the professions to press on'.

The Guardian's front page splash accuses the prime minister of playing divide and rule tactics in relation to today's health bill meeting.

‘Strikingly it appears both the BMA and the Royal College of Practitioners have not been asked to the summit, even though the transfer of greater powers to doctors is a centrepiece of the changes', it says. But it adds the Government has ‘openly asserted' that those invited to the meeting were done so because the meeting was about how to implement the bill and not to discuss further concessions, and there is ‘little purpose inviting the kind of groups that had opposed the changes from the outset'.

Let's hope that, if and when the reforms are enacted, the NHS will be able to cope with the onslaught of drink-induced liver disease, predicted in the Mail this morning.

Drinking will kill 210,000 in the next 20 years unless cheap booze is outlawed, senior doctors have warned. Professor Ian Gilmore and Dr Nick Sheron - described as ‘two of Britain's foremost alcohol specialists' - are urging the Government to act quickly to avert ‘shameful, preventable loss of life' by outlawing cheap alcohol.

They have predicted that the next two decades will see 70,000 deaths from liver disease and a further 140,000 from drink-related strokes, heart attacks, cancer, violence, suicides and accidents, all in relation to cheap alcohol use.

Official figures show there were 1.2 million hospital admissions related to alcohol in 2011, a figure which has doubled in the last eight years. In addition, alcohol-related illnesses and injuries cost the NHS £2.7 billion every year.

Dr Sheron blames the problem on Britons' refusal to change drinking habits.

He told the BBC's Panorma: ‘We have adopted the Mediterranean drinking pattern, so people will frequently drink with meals, but we haven't lost our ‘feast' drinking pattern, so everyone likes to go out and get caned on a Friday night as well.'