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Prime Minister David Cameron gives appears in front of a Liaison Committee at the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 12, 2013. See PA story POLITICS Cameron. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Doctors’ leaders have urged David Cameron to end “damaging” speculation that the Government is poised to abandon plans for the minimum pricing of alcohol.
The British Medical Association (BMA) urged the Prime Minister to “be courageous” and take a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save lives, save the country money”.
A consultation document last year floated a base price of 45p per unit in England and Wales and the Government has yet to release its conclusions.
Mr Cameron had thrown his weight behind the policy but a number of Cabinet ministers, including Home Secretary Theresa May, have made clear they harbour doubts.
Speculation has been growing for some weeks that the proposals will be shelved amid criticism that it will unfairly punish responsible drinkers on low incomes.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the BMA, said the impact on them would be a “tiny amount” of 30p-40p per week that would be outweighed by the benefits.
Asked what the BMA’s message would be to the Prime Minister, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Be courageous: this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save lives, to save the country money. Both of those are very good deals for him.
“And it will get him the thanks of an awful lot of people. Not just doctors and nurses but also the families of problem drinkers who desperately want the Government to do something to help them help the people they love to kick the habit and to save their lives.”
She went on: “We really do need to know. All the plans are based on the fact that we are going to have the minimum pricing so that we can do something.
“It is damaging because none of us know where we are going next, what it is we are going to have the opportunity to do to make a difference.
“Having nailed his colours very firmly to the mast and said this is something the Prime Minister wants to do because he recognises the tragedy that alcohol is causing in our society, it would be bizarre for him to let it wither.”
The renewed speculation that the proposals could be dropped sparked dismay among some Tory backbenchers last night.
Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston - a former GP - wrote: “Very concerned about suggestion that minimum pricing to be dropped from alcohol strategy.”
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Terrorism returned to the streets of London today as two suspected Muslim fanatics butchered a man in broad daylight in the name of “Allah”.
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