Liam Farrell: Patients' compulsory right to choose

It was good to see everything going well with the royal baby; William and Kate seem nice and I hope the nickname Boy George doesn't stick.

I also hope they have their baby vaccinated on schedule, with appropriate publicity. It's a great opportunity to raise awareness of its benefits.

Mind you, last Christmas, I watched the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show. Kate, a chic and elegant woman, was presenting awards, when Jessica Ennis-Hill was called up on stage.

In a figure-hugging red dress, Jessica looked magnificent. Kate seemed to shrink into the background and I remember thinking Jessica should be queen; it would almost be worth Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth.

But then I considered the other side of the coin. Just across the border, last year's candidates for the Irish presidency included the usual retired political hacks, a right-wing Catholic former Eurovision winner and a Dragons' Den guru who was actually leading in the polls up to the last week, when the Irish public realised this was too ridiculous even for them.

So perhaps royalty is not a bad deal; it lends a bit of dignity and reliability, as long as it doesn't stray beyond the bounds of its competence.

But Prince Charles has been at it again, another meeting with Jeremy Hunt, encouraging funding for homeopathy. And this is smothered in weasel words about the importance of patient 'choice'.

Joe came in with an 'awful' sore throat and (for a change) splendid signs, mucus dripping off his uvula like a mountain stream after winter snows.

'You have a throat infection, Joe,' I said. 'You can have antibiotics ...'; Joe looked briefly satisfied.

'... or,' I continued, 'you can have a homeopathic preparation, AKA expensive water, very safe but totally ineffective.'

'You decide, doc,' he said. 'You're the expert.'

'Choose, man, choose, which one do you want?' I demanded, gripping him by his lapels.

'I don't want to choose,' he protested.

'You have to choose,' I said. 'It's compulsory.'

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

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