Julian Grocock: We must unite against BMA's diagnosis

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Related tags: Physician

Except indirectly, because every time we immerse ourselves in impassioned argument about the structure of our industry, we do so united at least by...

Except indirectly, because every time we immerse ourselves in impassioned argument about the structure of our industry, we do so united at least by the common cause that we are individual stakeholders in it. It is our living and safeguarding its current health and vitality and diagnosing its ailments and evaluating its prognosis are crucial for our own wellbeing.

However, while we're gazing at the fluff in our own navels we temporarily forget that there are strident and threatening voices out there that would prefer it if our businesses were fatally ill. And excuse the medical analogies but I'm sure you appreciate why I'm deliberately using them.

The latest "deathwish" from the BMA has generated some laudable individual responses, but surely this is one area where we could demonstrate some real strength-in-unity and stand rather more robustly against the quack patent - and patently wrong - remedies being proposed.

I grew up in respectful awe of doctors - professionals who spoke with the wisdom of intellect and years of dedicated training, and in whom I would place my complete trust should the need arise. They're still recommended as the pillars of community who should certify your passport photo as "a true likeness". (Would that have applied to Jacko's plastic surgeon, I wonder.)

But there is quite simply no accurate diagnostic train of thought in their pronouncements against us. There isn't space in this article to take apart their arguments one-by-one, and I'm sure I'm not the best qualified to do it. But, as I have already said, lone voices count for far less than the bloody racket we should all be making together.

Alcohol abuse is a cancer that cannot be treated with a prescription of sound-bite placebos. Those most affected by drink problems are least affected by advertising. Brand awareness does not inform their purchasing habits. And as for reducing licensing hours, the medical profession itself has had more than its share of battles with the demon drink but, physicians, ask yourselves: How much of your own consumption of booze has been in the pub or has been governed by opening times?

The BMA report's author condemns what he sees as the normalisation of alcohol as "an essential part of everyday life". As far as I am concerned, it is pubs that are an essential part of everyday life - and their survival is vital as part of a real and lasting cure for the ills that he seeks to address.

What we must offer is a second opinion, to counter these calls for treatments that have as much rational basis as shamanic incantations and sticking pins in voodoo dolls.

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