Public health doctors have raised at least one cheer for the new government’s plans to ban supermarkets from selling cheap alcohol as a loss leader.
The coalition government also promised to look at alcohol tax and pricing. Its proposals gained weight when Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, writing in The Daily Telegraph, pledged his firm could consider a minimum price.
Forming an unlikely alliance, Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, and two other campaigning doctors backed Sir Terry in a letter to The Times and argued that without a price floor for alcohol, the government’s proposals would do little to tackle “the rising tide of alcohol-related ill health”.
The Daily Mail weighed in, finding a Tesco store that was selling beer at 69p a pint, as part of a World Cup promotion, “days after its chief executive backed calls for an end to cheap drinks promotions”.
The new government’s emphasis on personal freedom faces a challenge from revelations that data collected from heel-prick blood samples taken from all newborn babies is in some cases kept indefinitely, and could be accessed by police forces.
The government recommends trusts destroy the data after five years, and the police need a court order to use it on an individual, but The Times says the guidance is not necessarily followed.
It says Central Manchester University Hospitals foundation trust plans to store the records indefinitely, Cambridge University Hospitals foundation trust keeps samples for 18 years, and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children trust stores the data for at least 20 years. Of course, “babies’ blood” and “secret database” proved irresistible, and the Telegraph reported this was creating a DNA database by the familiar “back door”.