Peppa Pig is encouraging patients to use GP surgeries inappropriately, a senior doctor has claimed.
Dr Catherine Bell said the children’s TV series was leading parents to make appointments for coughs and colds
This is because a GP in the programme, Dr Brown Bear, is often seen prescribing medicines to patients for minor ailments.
Influential: Dr Bear, right, on a home visit during one episode of Peppa Pig. A leading GP has suggested the show is leading parents to take their children to surgeries for minor ailments
In one episode he makes an urgent home visit to a three year old piglet with a facial rash, which he declares is ‘nothing serious.’
He says the rash will clear up quickly by itself regardless but nonetheless prescribes him some medicine, contrary to clinical advice.
Dr Bell – a GP in Sheffield– said it was an example of ‘unnecessary prescribing for a viral illness’ which ‘encourages patients to attempt to access their GP inappropriately.’
She refers to a second episode when Dr Brown Bear carries out a home visit to a piglet with a cold, which she describes as ‘clinically inappropriate.’
Writing in the BMJ, she points out that Peppa Pig is broadcast to parents in 180 countries and will have a ‘significant’ impact on their understanding of GP services.
‘I hypothesise that exposure to Peppa Pig and its portrayal of general practice raises patient expectation and encourages inappropriate use of primary care services.’ She says.
Dr Bell – who is the mother of a toddler – admits her research was not scientific and based on ‘mostly involuntary’ exposure to the programme.
Dr Bell said that the show would have a ‘significant’ impact on parents understanding of GP services in up to 180 countries where it is shown (stock photo)
She also accuses Dr Bear of having a ‘disregard’ for patient confidentiality and parental consent as well as poor record keeping.
Peppa Pig is a pre-school animation first aired in 2004 which draws in 11 million viewers a week from around the world.
It revolves around Peppa and her family and friends and each episode lasts just five minutes.
They aim to provide children with public health messages and life lessons such as the importance of eating healthily and helping others.