A red light for surgeries in supermarkets and a green light for better food labelling

Doctors in Britain are objecting to plans for walk-in clinics to be set up in supermarkets.

The Department of Health in its efforts to broaden access to primary healthcare in the UK wants to place doctors surgeries in locations where they have not traditionally wanted to set up, and that could include supermarkets.

But doctors meeting at the British Medical Association's (BMA) annual conference say such a location would only serve to undermine any advice given by a doctor because that is where nicotine, alcohol and junk food are sold.

Individual members of the British Medical Association made their opposition very clear and the conference overwhelmingly opposed any move by the government to take health care into the high street.

Some of the large supermarket chains already offer free blood-pressure tests and many supermarkets have in-store pharmacies.

Food chain Sainsbury's has 161 in-store pharmacies, and has apparently been involved in talks with the government about opening the first supermarket doctors surgery.

The government has said it wants to see doctors, sexual health and smoking cessation services in supermarkets, but Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, says supermarkets were not compatible with providing primary health care.

The doctors are also calling for the advertising of unhealthy food to children to be banned saying children are "vulnerable" and need to be protected.

They also want a 'traffic light' food labeling system to be introduced to help advise people which foods are unhealthy.

Such a scheme is already being tried out by some supermarkets despite opposition from the majority of the industry.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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