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The National Institute for Clinical Excellence are now proposing that GPs should routinely quiz patients about their alcohol consumption during consultations. If you have gone to the doctor’s with a rash or a sprained wrist it will be very tempting simply to respond “none of your business!”

It has often been noted that men are much less likely to visit GPs than women, resulting in major health problems often being diagnosed too late. Surely if they are going to be subjected to intrusive and patronising inquisitions they will be even more inclined to grin and bear it and not bother making an appointment. Far from improving health, this is going to erect another barrier between doctors and patients.

This is not to say that some people do genuinely have alcohol-related health problems, but surely questions like this should only be asked if it is relevant to the condition being treated, and not as part of a general attempt to investigate and control individual lifestyles.

In the comments it is suggested that GPs routinely give patients annual checkups, something that in reality happens only in Cloud Cuckoo Land – back on the ground it is hard enough to get an appointment even if you are at death’s door.

The article also perpetuates one of the favourite Big Lies of the anti-drink lobby, that alcoholic drinks have become cheaper in real terms. How many more times does it have to be repeated that alcohol only appears cheaper in comparison with incomes because people have on average become better off?