His members have been given the key to NHS commissioning, and now Royal College of GPs chair Steve Field has weighed in on the country’s public health.
In an interview with The Observer, widely picked up across the media, Professor Field said reckless consumption of unhealthy food and alcohol, and a refusal to stop smoking, was risking people’s health and storing up huge costs for the NHS.
He laid into parents for being “irresponsible” for feeding their children poor quality food. A number of papers ran headlines based on Professor Field’s assertions that smoking in a car or room with children in it amounted to a “form of child abuse”.
The Daily Mail, however, lined up other doctors seemingly in opposition, with British Medical Association ethics guru Vivienne Nathanson blaming corporate advertising for encouraging children to eat unhealthy food.
Over the weekend health minister Anne Milton was at the centre of what the Daily Mirror described as “one of the fastest U-turns in political history”, when her proposals to end free milk for all under-fives were announced and also withdrawn on Sunday morning breakfast television.
The Mirror recorded a 14 minute gap between education minister David Willetts explaining the plan on the BBC’s Sunday Andrew Marr Show, and then backtracking live on air - apparently because prime minister David Cameron had watched the interview and realised he could be labelled a “milk snatcher” like predecessor Margaret Thatcher.
Guardian readers may have spotted that its front page story on HSJ’s exclusive about the NHS Digital Communications Review introduced a typo - as Private Eye readers will no doubt enjoy - describing Health Service Journal as the Health Services Journal in its paper edition last Wednesday.