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GPs who dole out sugar water give our critics a free pass

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

There’s a new study out this week in which some ivory tower public health types have used a baffling statistical analysis to slam the prescribing practices of frontline GPs, and regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that I have strong opinions about it.

However, in something of a pivot from my previous blogs like the acclaimed ‘Shut the hell up, dweebs’ and ‘If I hear one more non-GP tell me how to do my job I won’t be held responsible for my actions so help me’, on this occasion I find myself lined up alongside the nerdy REMFs who created the study in question, hurling brickbats at my GP colleagues.

And that’s because they’ve found that one in 12 GP practices prescribe homeopathic remedies.

For the uninitiated, homeopathy is based on the premise that you can cure a condition by giving a substance that induces similar symptoms (well, that seems kinda ludicrous after even a few seconds of consideration but go on), and furthermore that you render the cure increasingly more powerful by diluting it over and over until no molecules of the original substance remain (OK that seems fair enou…wait what?); but don’t worry, the active ingredient will still have an effect on the water it’s mixed in because…(this had better be good because frankly if you want to get me back on board, whatever you say next has a LOT of lifting to do) every time you dilute it, you tap the bottle in a special magical way so the water remembers (All right GET OUT! SHRED YOUR MEDICAL DEGREE AND GET OUT! WHAT EVEN IS THIS?).

Startlingly, practices that dole out this stuff score badly on other prescribing quality measures

I’m serious; homeopaths believe that you can turn water into wonder drugs by banging it repeatedly on a desk; if that was the case, the water in my head could cure cancer right now.

In a startling turn of events, the study shows that practices that dole out this stuff score badly on other prescribing quality measures.

I’m sure the GPs prescribing homeopathy believe they’re doing the right thing, and it’s far from the only irrational act in the NHS. There may be GPs reading this whose practices regularly pray together for their patients, or perhaps their CQC results; and I myself continue to hand over the best part of a bag of sand to the RCGP and BMA each year in the blind faith that, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, this might one day confer on me some individual or collective benefit.

But come on guys. This is 2018. There’s so many people queueing up to tell GPs how crap we are, let’s not give them a free hit by handing out sugar water.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey



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