Half of German doctors prescribe placebos, according to a study for the German Medical Association. The report says placebos, from vitamin pills to homeopathic remedies or even sham surgery, can prove highly effective in various treatments.

The report recommends that students and doctors should be taught about placebos and their usage. “Placebos can maximise the effect of medication,” says Robert Jütte, author of the study and a BÄK board member. “They can reduce undesirable side-effects and are a more efficient usage of our healthcare budget.”

Recent research, he said, showed that placebos had helped 59% of patients who had been suffering from an upset stomach. Used to treat depression, placebos have the same effect as antidepressants in about a third of cases.

The efficacy of the treatment (placebo) depends on many factors, including the size and colour of a pill. The more expensive the placebo, the higher the success rate, the study found, and intravenous injections are shown to be more effective than oral medication.

Other studies elsewhere have shown that placebos work (to some degree) even when the recipient knows that they are receiving a placebo.

Perhaps this is something that could reduce costs in the NHS?


Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has intimated an end to the use of taxpayers’ money to expand the private health sector. This however does not rule out health boards bringing in the private health sector to tackle one-off local problems. Thoughts?

Could Google be more helpful?

Anyone else frustrated by the apparent random nature in which search results are delivered?

ok – I know Google search results are delivered in accordance with a sophisticated algorithm (or at least I think they are 🙂 ) …. but does that algorithm lack common sense? Unless the search term is defined in a very definitive manner; results appear to be delivered in a really strange way – e.g. results from previous years appearing before current information.

Surely there must be a more user friendly way of delivering results (at least categorising them in some sort of easily reviewed chronological order).

Anyone got any views – or am I alone in my frustration?

Given the existence of the Scottish, Welsh and NI Parliaments/Assemblies; should the UK government not be COMPLETELY restructured on more “commercial lines” ; restructured to recognise these bodies more completely within Westminster and to and remove the potentially inequitable position of dual recognition for these regions? 

To open the debate – in an over-simplistic way:

This restructure might result in Westminster being considered the “Holding Group” with the Chairman (i.e. Prime Minister), the CEO’s of the operational divisions (i.e. the First Ministers of the Regions), and, the corporate staff (i.e. those Ministries which are not devolved).

This structure would require enhanced regional cover for England (which is a debate in itself)…… but perhaps some of the costs of this restructure could be offset by the reduced costs from the regions? By eliminating duplicated activities – No need for both MP’s and regional MP’s ….. the regions being represented in their own parliament/assembly – without duplication in Westminster. Some other kind of representation would be required to ensure inclusion of the regions in non-devolved matters.

Ok – I know – it’s not as simple as that J….. but let’s get the debate running.

What would work?

Can anyone help?

What came first?

Global warming caused: by human intervention, or, by increased Carbon Dioxide from bacteria stimulated into growth by increased sunspot activity?