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ITV faces backlash for ‘outdated’ comments about ‘pretend doctors’

ITV faced a backlash from pharmacists and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) last week following “outdated” comments about the profession on This Morning.

On the show – which aired on Friday (January 17) – journalist Sam Delaney claimed that the government and doctors are “encouraging chemists to intervene and say that…‘You’re too fat, you’re overweight’”.

“Pretend doctors”

In a discussion triggered by draft National Institute for health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidance on community pharmacists’ roles, Mr Delaney explained that he is “all for doctors pointing this out…because it’s behind closed doors”, but claimed that “chemists are very public places”.

“You [could] be in Boots,” he gave as an example. “It could be very crowded in there and suddenly you’re being called fat by a chemist who I think society generally, right or wrongly, don’t have much respect for anyway, because we think they’re pretend doctors a lot of the time.”

While host Ruth Langsford defended the concept of visiting a pharmacy if “it’s not [for] something too major” and pointed out that the conversation would take place in a consultation room, guest Vanessa Feltz argued that patients “don’t want to be ambushed by some pharmacist”.

Host Eamonn Holmes also suggested patients may view the service as a cynical way for pharmacists to “shift products from the shelves”.

You can watch the comments on the ITV website (skip to 35 mins). The broadcaster told C+D this morning that it apologises for “any offence caused” (see below).

RPS takes “immediate action”

The programme prompted an outraged response from pharmacists on Twitter, as well as from the RPS, which said it took “immediate action by writing to ITV to address inaccuracies in the programme”.

“We are extremely disappointed by comments made about the role of pharmacists in supporting people's health on ITV's This Morning programme,” the society explained on Twitter.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom confirmed to C+D it has received 2,313 complaints about the comments so far, but has “yet to decide whether or not to investigate”.

Pharmacist Johnathan Laird also set up a #whatwedoinpharmacy Twitter campaign to counter the broadcast inaccuracies about pharmacists’ roles.

ITV apology “for any offence caused”

ITV told C+D that the segment had focused on “the role of pharmacists in supporting people’s health and the controversial suggestion from the NHS regulator that pharmacists should comment on customers’ weight”.

“During this segment contributors often express their personal or light-hearted views, which do not always reflect the views of This Morning,” it added. “Referring to this specific topic we apologise if there was any offence caused.”

The programme will running a segment this week “on services to expect when visiting a chemist, with a top pharmacist explaining the valuable service they offer”, it added.

Twitter reaction

What do you make of the comments on ITV?

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