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A study into Peppa Pig’s effects on healthcare has people questioning other children’s characters

Is this pig culpable in raising patient expectations?

Children’s cartoon character Peppa Pig has been blamed for contributing to patients’ unrealistic expectations of their GP.

General practitioner Catherine Bell, writing in the BMJ, suggested the TV show aimed at pre-schoolers could be encouraging people to use healthcare services inappropriately.

In the tongue-in-cheek study, Bell analysed the character Dr Brown Bear, a GP who works alone but appears to provide his patients with an unrealistically excellent service, prompt and direct telephone access, continuity of care, extended hours and home visits.

Peppa Pig is broadcast in more than 180 countries and naturally the story has attracted a lot of attention online.

Some hearing of the story had their own stories to tell.

Others feared the worst when they saw the story trending on Twitter.

Meanwhile, some had pressing questions about other beloved children’s characters.

Such as, what about Postman Pat’s effect on the Royal Mail?

Or Fireman Sam on fire safety?

Or Thomas the Tank Engine and that rail service of his for that matter?

Let alone the stuff Spongebob Squarepants gets up to.

You keep on dreaming of Atlantis, Will.

In the study, Bell offered a number of case studies and considers the potential impact Dr Brown Bear’s actions could have on patient behaviour.

One such case sees Dr Brown Bear make an emergency visit to the playgroup after a three-year-old pony coughs three times. After examining the patient, he administers a dose of medicine immediately and warns that the cough could be transmitted to others.

When the rest of the playgroup attendees and their parents develop symptoms, they are all given a dose of a pink medicine. Dr Brown Bear then also develops symptoms, which Bell suggests shows he is suffering from “burnout”.

She adds: “His disregard for confidentiality, parental consent, record-keeping and his self-prescribing indicate that the burden of demand from his patient population is affecting his health.

“He is no longer able to offer the level of service his patients have come to expect.”

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