Liam Farrell: Mr Hunt, the prince and homeopathy

As Edgar Allan Poe once wrote: 'Suddenly there came a tapping/As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.' But the tapping was beginning to annoy me, so I rang my receptionist.

'If that's Jeremy Hunt again,' I said, 'tell him to get out of here.' I've never been comfortable with authority figures; I watched The Dukes of Hazzard during my formative years.

But Jeremy does love his practice visits and it's a pure calumny to suggest he's only made one in the past six months. It's nice he is so keen, but he has become a bit of a pest; it seems every time I turn around, he's here, squatting in the waiting room, getting down with folks, muttering about all the paperwork and passionately declaring that doctors should be able to get on with the real work of seeing patients unencumbered by officious and intrusive management, and that the real value of general practice can't be measured by bureaucrats and bean counters. He's a treasure; no, seriously.

'But it gets worse,' my receptionist said, 'Prince Charles is here as well, going on and on about something he calls "post-modern medicine", integrating scientific medicine and ancient wisdom, and handing out samples of homeopathic remedies. He's in full drug rep mode, even asked me where I was going on my holidays.'

'Am I to be spared nothing?' I appealed to the heavens. 'Put him off, tell him he'd do better promoting this stuff at a strategic level, by, for example, pressuring the NHS to remove material describing homeopathy as nothing more than snake oil being flogged to the gullible.'

'Draft guidance for NHS Choices warning there is no evidence that homeopathy works was suppressed following lobbying by a charity he set up,' she said. 'Unfortunately the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health was closed in 2010 following allegations of fraud that led to the conviction of a charity official for stealing more than £250,000. But before it expired, it succeeded in getting any criticisms watered down.'

'Well,' I said, 'that should make it more effective.'

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell.

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