The NHS has today announced that it has begun to role out a scheme which will see thousands of non medical practitioners introduced into surgeries across England and Wales in a bid to raise patient morale by enabling members of the public to get an appointment on the same day they ask for one.
The new placebo doctors will not be medically trained but will be on hand to see patients with minor ailments which do not really warrant medical attention such as coughs and colds, tiredness and period pains. They will also be the first port of call for any patient who uses the phrase “I feel really poorly” when trying to book an appointment and will eventually become a key contact for ‘revolving door’ patients who continually go to their GP unnecessarily.
Critics have labelled the scheme as ‘patronising’ and ‘irresponsible’ but the NHS has fiercely hit back pointing out that placebo doctors will not be identified as such, so patients will not be aware of the fact that they are not seeing a medical professional. An NHS spokesman said “Our placebo doctors may not be able to prescribe medicine but they will be able to offer advice and a friendly ear, and many patients only turn up to moan about their health and the state of the NHS anyway so will be none the wiser. The fact that they got an appointment on the same day will mean more to them than a prescription so everyone’s a winner. I can’t see the problem.”
The Patient’s Alliance has said that they believe the scheme is unlawful and unsafe and have declared that they are looking into the possibility of court action but the NHS has issued assurances that any staff employed as placebo doctors will undertake rigorous non medical training and be up to the job. “This is an excellent service and people shouldn’t underestimate the skill involved in being a placebo doctor; it takes an extensive recruitment process to find the right sort of person. We initially tried using receptionists but they were far too aggressive and refused to see any patients.”