Britain’s first hospital built entirely on the power of suggestion is to be opened next week as a cost-effective solution to the rising price of healthcare. The Royal London Placebo is totally fabricated, offers no actual treatments and will be manned entirely by extras from TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City.
‘Each doctor will have a nice white coat, a plastic stethoscope and a range of brightly coloured sugar pills,’ explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. ‘No expense has been spared,’ he said, ‘except the expense of building an actual hospital with trained staff and equipment.’
The Royal Placebo is understood to be the first in a new generation of ‘dummy hospitals’ to be rolled out across the country, allowing the phasing out of the costly old style ‘real’ hospitals of the past.
‘The placebo effect can account for up to 75% of the effectiveness of a medical treatment,’ explained Hunt. ‘Rather than waste billions on the current system we can achieve almost the same results for a fraction of the cost.’
Pilot studies show that half the patients who attended a placebo hospital imagined they were better and went home; meanwhile the other half had a failure of imagination and died on the spot. ‘Either way it’s a win-win,’ said Hunt.
The Health Secretary is a well-known supporter of alternative treatments and is believed to be using the theory of homeopathy to help design a massively watered down health service that operates purely on the memory of the NHS.
However, some placebo doctors are already complaining after being told that they will also be expected to run their own imaginary budgets. ‘I can’t pretend to run a pretend budget as well as pretend to be a doctor,’ said one stressed thesp. ‘I’m an actor playing a doctor, not an actor playing a doctor playing at being an accountant.’
Mr Hunt rejected claims that the new dummy hospitals represent the effective dismantling of the National Health Service. ‘The important thing to remember is that the placebo remains free at the point of delivery,’ he said. ‘The NHS will still exist as an idea, and sometimes that’s all that people really need.
‘Placebos are the future,’ he insisted, ‘although for many that may be a difficult pill to swallow.’