Is Peppa Pig responsible for putting pressure on the NHS?

Peppa Pig is a fairly uncontroversial figure. She has a loving family and good friends. She spends her days swimming, riding her bike and generally living the good life. Perhaps most crucially of all, she’s not real.

Despite all this, a new article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has decided to portion some of the blame for the crisis in the medical community squarely at the paws of Dr Brown Bear, an extremely dedicated GP who cares for Peppa and her loved ones.

Writing for the BMJ, Dr Catherine Bell remarks that “exposure to Peppa the Pig and its portrayal of general practice raises patient expectation and encourages inappropriate use of primary care services".

The piece goes on to detail some of the home visits and prescriptions depicted as being “clinically inappropriate”. At one point, Dr Bear visits a piglet with a facial rash, declaring it is “nothing serious” before offering medicine. Since the rash would more than likely disappear in time without medical intervention, Dr Bell worries that it sets a worrying precedent.

The second case highlighted in the piece concerns George catching a cold. Dr Bell is, once again, unimpressed with the house visit:

Dr Brown Bear conducts a telephone triage outside normal working hours and again opts to make a clinically inappropriate urgent home visit. Had he explored Daddy Pig’s ideas, concerns, and expectations, he would have discovered that Daddy Pig already had a good understanding of the likely diagnosis and self limiting nature of the illness.

In the third and final case placed under the microscope, Pedro the pony coughs three times while attending playgroup. Dr Bear heads to the patient in a car, sirens blaring, and administers a dose of medicine.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, told The Telegraph that despite the amusing way Dr Bell's argument is presented, there remains an important theme throughout.

At this incredibly tough time for the health service, we would encourage patients to think hard as to whether they need the services of a GP when they or their children are ill, or whether they can self-care or seek help from pharmacists, who are highly-trained to offer advice to patients with minor ailments.

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