Peppa Pig’s GP blamed for ‘unrealistic’ beliefs

Peppa Pig has been blamed for contributing to patients' unrealistic expectations of what they can expect from their GP. Picture: Channel 5/PA Wire
Peppa Pig has been blamed for contributing to patients' unrealistic expectations of what they can expect from their GP. Picture: Channel 5/PA Wire
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He is the community doctor for Peppa and her friends, making home visits and handing out medicine for every bump, scrape or rash.

Now an article in the medical journal the BMJ has claimed that the unrealistic workload of Dr Brown Bear in the Peppa Pig series is responsible for patients’s unrealistic views on what they can expect from their real-life GP.

Dr Catherine Bell, who works as a GP in Sheffield and has a small child who watches the series, has penned the piece criticising Dr Bear for making unneccessary visits to treat children at home and in playgroups, being available at the end of a phone at any time, and prescribing medicine for almost every minor ailment.

In the tongue-in-cheek piece, she offers a number of case studies and considers the potential impact Dr Brown Bear’s actions could have on patient behaviour.

In the first, Dr Brown Bear makes an urgent home visit to a three-year-old piglet with a facial rash.

He reassures the parents it is “nothing serious” and offers a dose of medicine, adding that the rash is likely to clear up quickly regardless.

This case questions whether Dr Brown Bear is an unscrupulous private practitioner for conducting an arguably clinically inappropriate home visit, writes Dr Bell.

“It is also an example of unnecessary prescribing for a viral illness, and encourages patients to attempt to access their GP inappropriately,” she adds.

She also writes of how Dr Brown Bear makes 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 other 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 Dr Bell suggests shows he is suffering from “burn-out”.

“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,” she adds.

She says that while Peppa Pig conveys many positive public health messages, such as encouraging healthy eating, exercise, and road safety, she suspects that “exposure to Peppa Pig and its portrayal of general practice raises patient expectation and encourages inappropriate use of primary care services”.