It was good to see praise of local papers

Ewan McGregor  as Renton in Trainspotting - the gender neutral toilets Zella has visited are almost as grubby

ZELLA COMPTON: Men – just aim it in the right direction and we’ll all be happy!

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Health Secretary Andrew Lansley hasn’t had exactly the easiest of rides in the Press as the NHS is put through one of its regular reappraisals.

So it was interesting to see him continuing to stress the importance of regional and local newspapers at a Newspaper Conference breakfast briefing recently.

He told the session in the House of Commons that local newspapers have a ‘very important’ role in informing people about what is going on around them.

‘People, if anything, attach more importance; read more carefully, absorb more fully what is in their local and regional newspaper than they do what is in the national newspapers,’ he said.

‘You’re talking about things that matter to them.’ Mr Lansley, who was talking to political editors and correspondents writing for regional press titles across the UK, spoke on a wide range of topics including hospital waiting lists, infection rates, and PFI initiatives. And he faced a challenge on proposals to keep key professional conduct hearings secret.

The Newspaper Society, which represents local newspapers across the country, voiced concern at General Medical Council proposals to end public hearings of Fitness to Practise Panels when co-operation is agreed by the doctor concerned to ‘putting the necessary patient protection in place’.

The GMC is currently working with the Department of Health on a Section 60 order to amend the law to implement its 2011 consultation proposals and allow panels to sit in private.

Mr Lansley reserved his response to the society.