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GPs Gerada and Jessen in Twitter storm

12 October 2012

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The Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) Dr Clare Gerada found herself embroiled in a Twitter storm after appearing to call people who feature on TV programme Supersize vs Superskinny “circus freaks”.

A row erupted on the social networking site earlier this week (7 October) between TV doctor Dr Christian Jessen and Dr Gerada after the presenter tweeted: “Morning! It’s the first day filming a brand spanking new series of Supersize vs Superskinny today! Group weigh in and pairing off. Excited!”

Clearly taking umbrage the use of the word ‘spanking’ when introducing his show, Dr Gerada accused Dr Jessen of deliberating using a word that has “sexual connotations” to “add to the voyuerism” and advised him to “be sensitive” and delete the tweet altogether.

When Dr Jessen denied using sexual language and joked Dr Gerada may be suffering from “conference fever”, she implied that exposing semi-naked bodies on the TV could be considered “sexual” and tweeted: “Even though they are on TV they vulnerable & using words with sexual overtones is not fair to them.”

Controversially, Dr Gerada then tweeted: “IMO modern day circus freaks wrapped up for modern consumption,” prompting a reply from Dr Jessen: “you are calling my patients circus freaks? In public? The press will love this…”
Dr Jessen then put the question to his 148,671 followers to find out whether anyone found Supersize vs Superskinny “in any way sexual”?

Practice Manager Tracy Green tweeted in support of Dr Jessen and said: “I personally don’t think there was anything wrong with the word. Each to their own eh?”

Yet National Clinical Lead for Nursing in DH Informatics Directorate. Anne Cooper seemed to side with Dr Gerada, tweeting: “Why would anyone responsible watch programmes that exploit suffering? #irresponsiblejournalism.”
Despite a handful of tweets coming out in support of Dr Gerada’s comments, the majority were very critical of her.

Signing off Twitter after the row, Dr Gerada said she had learnt about “cyber bullying” and “what it feels like to be recipient of a twitter storm”.