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Peppa Pig accused of piling pressure on NHS

Peppa Pig Dr Brown Bear

There’s a lot we can blame Peppa Pig for (boredom, tears and insanity) – and now there's also unrealistic expectations of what GPs should offer, apparently

Peppa Pig – every parent’s favourite TV show – has been accused of contributing to parents' unrealistic expectations of what they can expect from their GP. The claim has been made by Dr Catherine Bell, a GP and mother who has definitely been subjected to too many episodes of the cartoon.

As most parents of toddlers are unfortunately aware, one of the much-loved characters on the show is Dr Brown Bear – a GP who works alone and provides an impeccable service to his patients. Not only does he offer prompt and direct telephone access, continuity of care, extended hours and a low threshold for home visits, he also delivers the care with sincerity and a smile – good old Dr Bear.

But writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr Bell accuses the bear of single-handedly piling pressure on the NHS.

In the August publication, she cites no fewer than three examples in which the fictional GP provides “clinically inappropriate” home visits or prescriptions, and wonders what potential impact this might have on patient behaviour.

Dr Bell writes: "Exposure to Peppa the Pig and its portrayal of general practice raises patient expectation and encourages inappropriate use of primary care services.

“Given that Peppa Pig is broadcast and encountered by parents in more than 180 countries worldwide, the influence of his portrayal of the work of primary care physicians is likely to be significant.”

In the first case study, Dr Brown Bear makes an urgent home visit to a three-year-old piglet with a facial rash. He advises that the condition is “nothing serious” and offers some medicine – Dr Bell deems this a wholly unnecessary course of action, given that the rash would likely clear up on its own.

In the second study, George catches a cold and again, the doctor is quick to rush to his house and diagnose him. After a close examination, he advises rest and warm milk. Dr Bell again accuses Dr Bear of being overly zealous and accuses him of piling pressure on doctors by encouraging needless calls and visits to surgeries.

Dr Bell does however acknowledge that Peppa Pig “conveys many positive public health messages, encouraging healthy eating, exercise, and road safety". Thanks, Peppa.

Dr Brown Bear was contacted by Dr Bell for a comment but said he was unable to due to an ongoing practice investigation.