Britain’s first hospital built entirely on the power of suggestion is to be opened next week as a cost-effective solution to the rising price of healthcare. The Royal London Placebo is totally fabricated, offers no actual treatments and will be manned entirely by extras from TV shows such as Casualty and Holby City.

‘Each doctor will have a nice white coat, a plastic stethoscope and a range of brightly coloured sugar pills,’ explained Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. ‘No expense has been spared,’ he said, ‘except the expense of building an actual hospital with trained staff and equipment.’

The Royal Placebo is understood to be the first in a new generation of ‘dummy hospitals’ to be rolled out across the country, allowing the phasing out of the costly old style ‘real’ hospitals of the past.

‘The placebo effect can account for up to 75% of the effectiveness of a medical treatment,’ explained Hunt. ‘Rather than waste billions on the current system we can achieve almost the same results for a fraction of the cost.’

Pilot studies show that half the patients who attended a placebo hospital imagined they were better and went home; meanwhile the other half had a failure of imagination and died on the spot. ‘Either way it’s a win-win,’ said Hunt.

The Health Secretary is a well-known supporter of alternative treatments and is believed to be using the theory of homeopathy to help design a massively watered down health service that operates purely on the memory of the NHS.

However, some placebo doctors are already complaining after being told that they will also be expected to run their own imaginary budgets. ‘I can’t pretend to run a pretend budget as well as pretend to be a doctor,’ said one stressed thesp. ‘I’m an actor playing a doctor, not an actor playing a doctor playing at being an accountant.’

Mr Hunt rejected claims that the new dummy hospitals represent the effective dismantling of the National Health Service. ‘The important thing to remember is that the placebo remains free at the point of delivery,’ he said. ‘The NHS will still exist as an idea, and sometimes that’s all that people really need.’



‘Placebos are the future,’ he insisted, ‘although for many that may be a difficult pill to swallow.’

David Cameron has confirmed that the government’s NHS bill will have its life ended by physician-assisted suicide. ‘We tried everything to save it,’ said Mr Cameron, ‘but the condition is terminal. We have therefore decided that the time has come to put it out of its misery.’

Although killing a parliamentary bill is still illegal under British law, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been given special dispensation to fly it out to Switzerland where it will be terminated by doctors at the Dignitas Clinic.

‘Personally I would have preferred to put the bill into a hospice,’ said Lansley, ‘but the conditions in the House of Lords leave a lot to be desired. Of course we all hoped that during the 10-week listening exercise the bill might show some signs of remission, but every time I spoke to the doctors they told me there was no hope of recovery.’

The BMA has welcomed the decision. ‘While we do not normally approve of physician-assisted suicide, in this case we are prepared to make an exception,’ said a representative. ‘Sometimes the prognosis is so bad that the best option is a quick, painless death, followed by cheering and a street party.’

Various attempts to save the bill had been unsuccessful leaving it with only weeks to live. ‘We knew things had become serious,’ said a tearful Lansley, ‘because the last time I looked at the bill someone had left a sign by its bed reading “Do Not Resuscitate”.’

However, there is concern that some politicians have been placing undue pressure on the bill to have it killed off, purely for their own personal gain. ‘There was no undue pressure,’ insisted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. ‘I saw the charts and the figures spoke for themselves – it was going to die, and so were we. All I want is for the bill to be given a peaceful, dignified death – personally that is something I would also like for myself but I guess you can’t have everything.’

The prime minister has denied accusations that the decision represents yet another humiliating U-turn. ‘I prefer not to think of this as a U-Turn,’ said Mr Cameron. ‘As politicians we abide by a code of ethics that says that when things get awkward we change our minds to save our skins. It’s called the Hypocritic Oath.’