World’s First Placebo Hospital

Newsbiscuit is one of the main competitors to The Onion for web-based news satire. In a recent article, they proclaim the opening of the world’s first placebo hospital.

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.’

Like all the bast satire, this doesn’t stray too far from truth. Hunt, the new UK Health Secretary, a believer in homoeopathy, has been dubbed by the New Scientist as the Secretary of Magic.

 Jeremy Hunt – who replaced Andrew Lansley yesterday in a government reshuffle – thinks that homeopathy works, and should be provided at public expense by the NHS….

At the time, one of Hunt’s constituents, Sean Ellis, took issue with his support for homeopathy. He expressed his disappointment in a letter to Hunt, explaining that there’s little or no evidence it works, and that spending money on it drains resources from treatments that do work.

Here’s what Hunt wrote back. “I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However, I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue.” So, he clearly thinks homeopathy works. He finished with: “I realise my answer will be a disappointing one for you, but I hope that the letter helps to clarify my view.”

Health care consumes a large portion of the budget of all western nations. Adding magical ideas to the National Health Service will only harm patients and increase costs. Homoeopathy treatments themselves are harmless, as they are nothing but sugar pills, or as I like to call them—dehydrated water. Recognizing and funding homoeopathy by the health system has several hidden costs:

  • homoeopathy will be seen as a viable alternative by a larger number of patients. This may delay their looking for effective treatments for disorders leading to more expensive treatments for conditions that would be cheaper to treat in earlier stages.
  • this delay, by allowing conditions to progress without effective treatment will have a cost in patient quality of life.
  • promoting homoeopathy will undoubtedly lead to more forms of ineffective CAM treatments to creep into the health system.

In addition, acceptance of homoeopathy in the UK will lead to enhancing the acceptance of CAM in other countries compounding the problems.  No matter how many times CAM has been demonstrated to be ineffective, it just keeps coming back.

Health care is too important to be left to the magicians.

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