Axeing minimum alcohol price 'a disaster for patients', GPs warn

GPs are putting pressure on the government to back minimum alcohol pricing in England and warned it would be a 'disaster for patients' if the plans were scrapped.

Alcohol: GPs fear plans for minimum price per unit could be dropped
Alcohol: GPs fear plans for minimum price per unit could be dropped

GPC deputy leader Dr Richard Vautrey said that the government appears to be ‘having cold feet’ over its proposals to set minimum alcohol pricing at 45p per unit.

A Home Office spokesman said the government is due to make a decision on the plans in ‘due course’ after a consultation closed on 6 February.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘We want to see the government push ahead with it. We are very concerned if the government backtracks. It would be a disaster for the patients and their families we see day-in, day-out who have alcohol problems.

‘It looks like the government is having cold feet.

‘Prime minister David Cameron has made it clear that that was his intention. It is a sign of his leadership and now he needs to persuade his cabinet to do what is best for patients.

‘It is long overdue.’

GP MP Dr Sarah Wollaston (Con, Totnes), told the BBC she was ‘very concerned’ to hear that the plans might be dropped.

'We know that whenever alcohol is too cheap, people die,' she said.

‘If the chancellor wants a message from me, it's that we're already paying a huge amount to clear up the cost of this, around £21bn a year just to deal with the crime, violence and medical costs of it.’

Members of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, including the RCGP and the BMA, urged the government to follow Scotland’s lead and set 50p as the minimum price per unit. It said that this would prevent more than 3,000 alcohol-related deaths per year.

A Downing Street spokeswoman declined to comment.

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