Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 20, 2015

Named Person – The Seeds of Creep


It will soon be obligatory in Scotland for every child to have a “Named Person” from birth until 18.

Already the Creep has begun.

Although not covered by the Act, mothers are being asked if they would like to meet with the “Named Person” of their unborn baby.

“The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will see every Scottish child allocated a named person, usually a health worker up to the age of five, followed by a teacher.

The named person for each child would be identified about seven months into the pregnancy. Pregnant mothers will then be offered an opportunity to meet with their baby’s named person and a midwife, which the official guidance suggests should take place in the family home.

The disclosure that the scope of the proposals includes unborn babies comes as more details are emerging about how the legislation will work in practice.

The guidance states: “Where additional wellbeing needs are anticipated at birth the prospective Named Person should be involved in planning and providing supports to eliminate, reduce or mitigate risks to wellbeing.”

This would have to be done on a “non-statutory basis” because unborn children are not covered by the Act.”

Reading the comments following the Scotsman article it seems the Named Person is causing quite a stir in The Land of the Oldest Sage Witch’s Highland Granny.

If you scroll down this link you can read the comments.

The Scots are stirring.

Just in time for the run-up to a General Election.

Fascinating, My Black Cat.



Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 18, 2015

The tartan partnership


We have not blogged since October.

As is often the case, me and My Black Cat become catatonic when world events reach a certain pitch of evil….. child abuse, and perhaps even murder, involving those in the state responsible for the wellbeing of children in care, in schools, in medical practice. Beheadings and many other atrocities using the name of a religion. Slavery. Trafficking.

Evil there certainly is in this world of ours right now.

However, The Oldest Sage Witch’s Highland Granny has brought us round with a jolt!

She quotes from a document being spewed from The Scottish Government.

“Parents as partners in getting it right for every child”

In Scotland, is The State planning to take responsibility for the upbringing of all children?

They have changed the word. They are calling it “wellbeing” rather than “upbringing.” But delving deeper it seems to The Witch Doctor that in Scotland, “wellbeing” is considered to be “good upbringing.”

And The State will see to the “wellbeing” of every single Scottish child from birth till age 18.

It seems The State is condescendingly allowing parents to become “partners” in this responsibility.

The State has appointed useful idiots known as “named persons.” Every single child in Scotland will have a “named person” from birth till the age of 18.

Funnily enough, My Black Cat came across this notion about a year ago when the Bill was going through the Scottish parliament. It has since become an Act.

We didn’t trust the state then, and we don’t trust them now.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 22, 2014

Dementia toolkits… Pah!


The Witch Doctor just needs to hear a whisper of the word “toolkit” and she loses the will to live.

So, can you imagine the effect that a “dementia toolkit” will have on her?


Well, put it this way. If you never hear from The Witch Doctor or My Black Cat ever ever again, you can blame our demise on Simon Stevens and the damned dementia toolkit that is patronisingly “aimed at ‘demystifying’ the condition for GPs.”

Below is a cut and paste from a post we first published here in 2008.

The Witch Doctor is still as perplexed as she was then.

So is My Black Cat.

Furthermore she is hopping mad that the money she pays to HMG in tax will be spirited away to bribe GPs to herd in all the dementia patients they can lay their hands on.

What are they going to do with them once they find them, My Black Cat?

Will the enthusiasts running the NHS make a database and sell it on to any Tom, Dick or Harry willing to pay for it?




They thought no-one would notice when they introduced The Dementia Thing at Christmas, My Black Cat.

Now Dr Crippen has picked up on it and has a lot to say.

The Witch Doctor was just musing over a lecture on dementia she attended a long time ago. She took the form of The Human Kind on that occasion, because it was she who organised the lecture, so she had to be visible – it would have freaked everybody out if she had donned her witch garb.

Please don’t question why The Witch Doctor was arranging a lecture on dementia – it is a convoluted story. Interesting, but too convoluted to tell.

Anyway, it was really a long time ago, before Memory Clinics were heard of.

The lecturer, who was a young, enthusiastic, clinical psychologist described the service she ran. To all intents and purposes, it was A Memory Clinic.

Maybe The First Memory Clinic. Who knows.

The lecturer’s role did not involve excluding other medical conditions unrelated to dementia. This had already been done before patients were referred to the clinic.

The audience, who were all doctors, listened attentively and seemed to agree it was a good idea for the patient and his/her family to obtain a firm, early diagnosis and prognosis of dementia.

This perplexed The Witch Doctor. She couldn’t work out why how this might benefit the patient.



So, at the end, at question time, she asked the question.

““What do you feel are the main advantages of patients knowing their cerebral symptoms are due to dementia?”

Apparently there seemed to be two main advantages.

1. Patients would be able to make practical plans for the future and tidy up their finances and other aspects of their lives before they became severely disabled.

2. The knowledge would encourage them to do things they wanted to do with those closest to them sooner rather than later. A world cruise was mentioned as an example.

The Witch Doctor remained perplexed.

No-one else in the room seemed to be perplexed.

This confirmed that The Witch Doctor is odd.

Funnily enough, a few days after that, The Witch Doctor encountered a patient at her clinic who had early dementia.

By coincidence she had attended this very same embryo “Memory Clinic.”

The Witch Doctor couldn’t resist talking about it with her for a little while.

The patient said:

“You know doctor, one of my neighbours has really bad dementia, and no one told her what was wrong, poor soul. I just keep thinking how lucky I am, now that I know what’s wrong with me.”

The Witch Doctor became even more perplexed.

And still is.

The Witch Doctor is odd!

Do you suppose HMG is going to pay for these unfortunate patients to have a world cruise?

Is that why they want everyone trained to “recognise” the early symptoms of dementia?

Posted by: Witch Doctor | September 28, 2014

More on paedophilia and oddballs


In general, The Witch Doctor yawns when she hears about yet another case of chatting up, touching up, or some kind of sexual harassment that falls well short of rape of an adult – especially when it happened decades ago and real hard evidence is non-existent.

When you look at the familiar face above, you might find it difficult to believe this but true it is nevertheless – attempts have been made to chat up, touch up and sexually harass The Witch Doctor in the past. You might also find it hard to believe, but The Witch Doctor never batted an eyelid at any of these advances even on the occasions that some dick or another tried to expose himself. No. She just dealt with the matter there and then.

No-Big-Deal !!!

A quick smack or a huge wallop is generally all that is required.

And then there is always the Book of Spells in the most serious instances.

So probably we witches have an advantage.

However, if every male who had ever chatted up, touched up or sexually harassed a female over their lifetime was eventually caught up with and tried for the offence, the police force, courts and prisons would grind to a halt.

However, to be clear, The Witch Doctor is not referring to rape, attempted rape or serious physical assault.


On the other hand, if anything makes this witch absolutely fuming mad it is where sexual abuse of children or adults needing protection occurs in a setting such as a school, childrens’ home, hospital, church, or anywhere else where  people are supposed to be protected by trustworthy staff.

She also gets fuming mad at the notion that festered a few decades ago within The Paedophile Information Exchange, that acts of paedophilia were somehow OK and might even benefit the child!!!!

Here’s a report of numerous sordid offences that beggars belief:


“A public investigation is to be launched into how a paedophile teacher, William Vahey, was able to drug and abuse at least 60 children at the £25,000-a-year Southbank International School in London.”

“Between 2009 and 2013, Vahey, an American humanities teacher, used sedatives to render boys drowsy on excursions, then took them back to their rooms and abused them while they were unconscious. The FBI has described him as one of the most prolific sexual predators it has ever seen.”

“A review from Hugh Davies QC, commissioned and paid for by Cognita, has already found that the school breached statutory guidelines in hiring Vahey, failing to take up references and allowing him to be hired by only one person, the then headmaster, Terry Hedger.

Davies said Vahey’s questionable conduct had been known about during his employment and reported, but that inadequate record-keeping meant the alarm had not been raised.”

The Witch Doctor has always been wary about handing over any her several witch children to the care of people she did not know well for school trips, sleepovers etc, especially since one of her own teachers, now an old man, is currently in jail for child sexual abuse involving his pupils many years ago.

And incidentally, she thinks the fact that Jimmy Savile, a man who, famous or not, was clearly an oddball by any standards was permitted to roam around hospitals the way he did for years on end is utterly preposterous. NHS heads should roll over this.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | September 16, 2014

Aye or Naw?


Awe weel. For all thae scots bairns who will no “click” on the link in the last post, here is the whole story.


“Four months ago I joined the Yes camp out of a desire to take part in the great debate that the Yes camp told me was taking place within their ranks. Being a doubter I thought maybe I’d failed to find this debate and that it was exclusive to the membership of the Yes camp, so I joined hoping I could locate it and take part. But even as I was accepted into the ranks – after my ‘Morrison votes Yes’ article in Bella Caledonia, I noted that 5 out of the meagre 20 comments I received berated me for either not having decided sooner or for having questioned Yes at all. Another said, and I paraphrase: ‘Well if he’s had to mull it over he could easily switch to the other side.’ That comment in Bella Caledonia worked away at me like a stone in my shoe. Beneath it, I realised, was a subconscious message: ‘Now that you’re in with us you have to toe the line – ask questions about Yes and you’re out.’

Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”

The Yes movement started to remind me of the Trotskyists – another movement who believed they were political but were really no more than a recruitment machine. I know because I was a member of the SWP in the late 80s. As a ‘Trot’ we were absolutely banned from talking about what the economy or country would be like ‘after the revolution’; to worry about it, speculate on it or raise questions or even practical suggestions was not permitted. We had to keep all talk of ‘after the revolution’ very vague because our primary goal was to get more people to join our organisation. I learned then that if you keep a promise of a better society utterly ambiguous it takes on power in the imagination of the listener. Everything can be better “after the revolution”. It’s a brilliant recruitment tool because everyone with all their conflicting desires can imagine precisely what they want. The key is to keep it very simple – offer a one word promise. In the case of the Trotskyists it’s ‘Revolution,’ in the case of the independence campaign it’s the word ‘Yes’. Yes can mean five million things. It’s your own personal independence. Believing in Yes is believing in yourself and your ability to determine your own future. Yes is very personal. How can you not say Yes to yourself? You’d have to hate yourself? Yes is about belief in a better you and it uses You as a metaphor for society as if you could simply transpose your good intentions and self belief onto the world of politics. The micro onto the macro. Yes is a form of belief – and this is the genius of the Yes campaign: they’ve managed to conflate personal self-determination with state power – to shrink the idea of the state down to the self and the question of the future down to ‘belief in the self.’You wouldn’t want to repress yourself and you personally want to be independent in your own life so, the Yes logic goes you should ask the same of your country. Every economist has told us that you cannot transpose the micro-economics of your home onto the globe – that micro and macro are different worlds, with different rules, but Yes has managed to blur the two to say ‘your country is you.’ Your country is an extension of your own personal desires. As the ubiquitous campaign slogan runs ‘Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands’ – and to reinforce the domestic personal motif the image is that of a newborn – a perfect new self.

The Yes camp have managed to make it seem like criticism of their politics is an attack on the individual’s right to imagine a better self. To do this, the Yes campaign has had to be emptied of almost all actual political content. It has had to become a form of faith.

And it’s not surprising – there is no way that the groups under the banner of Yes could actually work together; they’re all fighting for fundamentally different things. How can the Greens reconcile themselves with the ‘let’s make Scotland a new Saudi Arabia’ oil barons? How can the radical left reconcile themselves with the pro-capitalist Business for Scotland group? Or the L.G.B.T Yes Youth community find common cause with elderly Calvinist nationalists or with the millionaire SNP donor who backed Clause 28. Instead converts chant the same mantra – YES – to cover all the cracks between their mutual hatred. Debate becomes reduced down to one word and the positivity of that one word erases all conflicts and questions beneath a fantasized unity. YES. Yes also erases history, politics and reality. Yes means too many things and ends up meaning nothing. It’s silenced the conflicting politics within it to the point that it means little more than the euphoric American self-help phrase “be all you can be.”

Now some may say – ah yes but Yes is a rainbow coalition – the very essence of democratic pluralism. But you have to ask yourself with so many groups all tugging in so many directions what makes a separate Scotland any different from the rest of the UK with its democratic conflicts, its mess? Democracy is a daily struggle, an ongoing fight to reconcile differing opinions and ideologies, of contesting facts and plans and shouldering the burdens we inherit from history. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and it’s all about compromise.So why do we need to leave the union to engage in this painful process we call democracy?

The answer is that the factions within the Yes camp are all dreaming that they will have more power in the new Scotland ‘after the referendum.’ Bigger fish in the smaller pond. The Greens will have more power than they ever could in the UK. Business leaders will have more influence over Scottish government. The hard left will finally realise its dream of seizing power and creating a perfect socialist nation. Each group is dreaming of this fresh new country (as clean as a white sheet, as unsullied as a newborn) in which they themselves dominate and hold control. Clearly these groups can’t all have more power and the banner they share is a fantasy of a unity that is not actually there. It’s a Freudian slip when converts claim that the first thing that will happen ‘after independence’ is that the SNP will be voted out – it betrays the fantasy that each interest group has of its own coming dominance.

Many people are voting Yes just to express their frustration at not being able to engage with politics as it is. They’re voting Yes because they want their voice to be heard for the first time. That’s understandable and admirable, but Yes is not a debate or a democratic dream, it’s an empty word and an empty political process which means dream of what you want and express it with all the passion in your heart. The dream will die as soon as the singular Yes gets voted and Scotland then turns into a battleground of repressed and competing Yesses. Once the recruitment machine has served it purpose it will collapse and the repressed questions will return with a vengeance.

I left the Yes camp and joined the No camp not because I like the UK or think the status quo works well as it is. No. I think things are as complicated and compromised as they always are and that we live in trying times. The Yes camp understand that and so have created an illusion of a free space in which everything you’ve ever wanted can come to pass – overnight. How can it? There are exactly the same political conflicts within the factions of Yes as there are within the UK. After a Yes vote the fight for control of Scotland will begin and that unity that seemed like a dream will be shattered into the different groups who agreed to silence themselves to achieve an illusion of an impossible unity – the kind of unity you find in faith, not in politics. What makes this worse than remaining in the UK is that Scotland will be fighting out its internal battles on a world stage after demonstrating it intends to run its new politics on an illusion of unity, a unity that breaks up even as it is observed.”

How aboot clicking noo, ye lazy lot! Ye’ll find maist o’ the comments interestin. And there are other guid posts tae!



Posted by: Witch Doctor | September 16, 2014




Some of you will remember me.

I am The Oldest Sage Witch’s Highland Granny.

Me and My Broomstick swoosh into this blog occasionally when The Witch Doctor and My Black Cat vaporise into some alternative universe or other for weeks on end and totally neglect this place – their own wee corner of cyberspace.

Read this, will you, my daft Scottish bairns, and get yer act together!

Yer minds are getting caught up in the most persuasive of Creep.




Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 18, 2014

Bless the Archbishops!


Well, My Black Cat, do you know any doctors or witches who are able to accurately predict the death of a patient within six months – a patient who is being fed, watered and receiving treatment for their condition(s)?





Me neither.

Not a single one.

Retired learned archbishops might be able to do it. Perhaps with age and experience they develop the ability to tap into the Will of God.

Maybe, My Black Cat.


Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 23, 2014

PIE and the three plums : Reading material


It is a busy time for The Witch Doctor and My Black Cat, nevertheless we feel there is a need to catalogue some of the items in the press regarding the Three Plums that have been pulled out of the pie. This post will be used to do this by expanding links as we gradually watch the matter unfold as it must surely do.

We are waiting patiently for the BBC to report (it now has – 24 February 2014 Last updated at 17:58) on the association of Harriet Harman, her husband Jack Dromey, and Patricia Hewitt with the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) In addition, for some time now we have been waiting for these two feminist plums who have both occupied the highest levels within the British political establishment to explain their views on the matter then and now. However, My Black Cat wonders if the plums are being, or will be, questioned by the police and that is why the BBC is lying low at the moment (in view of the mess they got themselves into over Savile and other allegations).

In the meantime in Scotland, it might be a good idea if Alex Salmond and Aileen Campbell contemplated the past affiliation of these two feminist, high profile political plums with paedophiles, changing the age of consent, and desire to legalise incest. They might then ask themselves whether it is really is such a good idea to have the state legally meddling in the upbringing of each Scottish child from birth until age 18 years.

“The Scottish Government wants a named person, a health worker or senior teacher, to oversee how each child is raised up to age 18.”

More from the papers:

“Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, is adamant that the measures are necessary, despite opposition from the Faculty of Advocates, teaching union the EIS and civil liberties campaign Big Brother Watch.”

Just in case they have never given it much thought before, perhaps, Alex Salmond and Aileen Campbell should also contemplate how Creep works.

Perhaps they should ask themselves whether they themselves, the state and its politicians are wiser than the vast majority of parents who, through family bonds, have the best interests of their own children at heart.




26 Feb 2014

Daily Mail Hysteria Over Harriet Harman and Pedophilia


26 Feb 2014

Paedophile scandal: Harriet Harman insists she has nothing to apologise for


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman is being treated unfairly


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman backtracks on liberty group’s links with pro-paedophile campaigners and expresses ‘regret’


25 Feb 2014

Labour’s paedophile problem is more about press regulation



25 Feb 2014

PIE, the NCCL and Harriet Harman: why she was right not to apologise


25 Feb 2014

Harman expresses ‘regret’ over NCCL link with paedophile group: Politics live blog


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman tweets Daily Mail website picture of girl aged 12 in bikini


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman’s handling of the Daily Mail ‘smear’ has been wholly inept


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman demands apology for Daily Mail’s paedophile ‘smears’


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman took too long to apologise over Daily Mail’s paedophile allegations


25 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman and PIE Scandal: Who Were British Establishment Paedophiles Who Were Involved?


24 Feb 2014

Harriet Harman condemns paper’s ‘smear campaign’


24 Feb 2014

Harman and pals are discovering the cost of putting the past on trial


24 Feb 2014

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: A silence that grows ever more deafening


23 Feb 2014

Labour trio can’t stay silent on this paedophile claim


22 Feb 2014
Senior Labour figures have serious questions to answer about past links to vile paedophile support group


20 Feb 2014

Vital questions these Labour apologists for child sex MUST now answer


9 March 2009

Harriet Harman under attack over bid to water down child pornography law


Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 22, 2014

Paedophilia and incest


There seems to be agreement between the Guardian and Daily Mail regarding The Three Plums coming out of the pie.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 22, 2014

Pulling plums out of the pie


If you want to see how Patricia Hewitt, Harriet Harman and her husband Jack Dromey are ageing over the years, then click here.

Please do.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 20, 2014

The fairy godmother from the state.


“The Scottish Government wants a named person, a health worker or senior teacher, to oversee how each child is raised up to age 18.”

Think about it, My Black Cat.

Just think about it.

That’s all

Posted by: Witch Doctor | December 21, 2013

Nudging witches to feel good about themselves.


My Black Cat has just presented The Witch Doctor with some Christmas reading.

Does she not know that witches are not in the least charitable?

Even at Christmas-time?




Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 24, 2013

11,000 children and two doctors


“If we are to create peace in our world, we must begin with our children.” –

Mahatma Gandhi

Just in case you are unaware of this, The Witch Doctor feels the need to inform you about Italy’s first female doctor.

Her name was Maria Montessori and rumour has it that she might have gained entry into medical school because her name was misread as Mario Montessori.

She was the only female medical student in her year and had to perform much of her training alone and out of hours because at that time it was not deemed suitable for a female to learn about the intimacies of the human body alongside male students.

After graduation Dr Montessori specialised in psychiatry including the care of mentally disabled children. Subsequently, by observing how children learn she developed a method of facilitating the young child’s natural love of learning using special materials that she herself designed. Each child was treated as an individual. Her approach was for the teacher to learn from the child and “follow the child”

This is what she said of the child of kindergarten age.

‘Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill-treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. They are full of love themselves and need to be loved in order to grow’.

Maria Montessori.

But more than this – she followed the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi – that if there was ever to be peace in the world it would depend on the children of the world. The Montessori method incorporates respect for the Universe, the Earth, Nature and all life within the planet. She believed that children should cooperate and care for each other rather than compete. The true Montessori classroom (and there are some imposters) is a place of peace, respect, kindness and individualism.

It is reported there is a doctor in Syria who sends his children to a Montessori school.

His name is Dr Bashar al-Assad. He also happens to be the President of Syria.

It is also being reported that more than 11,000 children have been killed to date in Syria’s civil war.

Dr Maria Montessori will be turning in her grave.

Dr Bashar al-Assad seems to care not a damn.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 9, 2013

How to save the NHS £886,626,000 a year


Rationing or cutbacks directly involving patient care within the NHS may or may not be necessary. The Witch Doctor assumes at the present time neither is necessary.


Because no-one has accounted for the waste that is going on within the NHS.

Waste in little things.

Waste in big things.

Waste in not prioritising the important from the unimportant.

Waste in continually trying to manage the unmanageable.

Waste in making decisions that even a monkey could, in the blink of an eye, recognise as crazy.

Waste in projects that go well over budget or are abandoned.

Waste from staff faffing about doing things that are of no benefit to patients and of miniscule benefit to themselves.

Until that waste is fully accounted for and corrected, The Witch Doctor is of the opinion it is rather obscene to talk about rationing or cutbacks.

Who in government is measuring the cost of ALL of this waste resulting from inappropriate activity?

Well, a medical blogger is having a go at this.

He / she / they have worked out how to save the NHS over £ 886,626,000 a year.

And that is just for one scam.

The scanning scam!

The Witch Doctor is not clever enough to verify these figures. Neither is My Black Cat. Nevertheless, black cats have a wisdom all of their own. MBC maintains that if no-one from government challenges these figures either by commenting on this blog or on Nothern Doc’s blog, then we should assume that the figures are correct and that the scanning scam wastes about £886,626,000 of taxpayers’ money.

However, it seems to The Witch Doctor that this calculation does conceal another happening of a financial nature – one that probably siphons off a few million pounds of money directly from patients’ bank accounts into the private sector.

The problem is, The Witch Doctor has to be careful how, or if, she tells you about this, because, as readers of this blog may be aware, she seldom discusses clinical situations concerning patients unless they happened a very long time ago or it involves a very close member of her family.

So, she may or may not tell you sometime about the other side of the scanning scam that she has observed in recent times.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 5, 2013

Regulators in a corner


For more years than she cares to remember, because of the nature of her specialty, The Witch Doctor has had the privilege of working very closely with a number of hospital pharmacists. Some of these professionals became her closest colleagues and the dedication and support they gave the service during difficult times was exceptional.

The Witch Doctor is pretty sure these pharmacists all have a sound, educated, and objective scientific approach to their subject.

She is absolutely certain, for example, that they have all heard of Avogadro’s number and understand its significance.

Community pharmacists working in high street shops seem to be a different breed. It appears they have been subject to Creep in a spectacular way. Many happily sell the modern equivalents of snake-oil without a blush.

DC’s Improbable Science has tackled the subject head on.


“The problems seem to lie mostly in retail shops. Their shelves are laden with ineffective pills and potions. And the pharmacist has every incentive to sell them. His/her income depends on it directly if it’s a privately owned pharmacy. And his/her standing with head office depends on it in chain store pharmacies. This conflict of financial interest is the prime reason why pharmacists are not qualified to form a third tier of healthcare. The avoidance of conflicts of interest among doctors was one of the great accomplishments of the NHS. In the USA there are huge scandals when, as happens repeatedly, doctors order expensive and unnecessary treatments from which they profit. It’s no consolation that such problems are creeping back in the UK as a result of the government’s vigorous efforts to sell it off.”

For some patients who are in the habit of “asking their pharmacist for advice” all of this may be an eye-opener.

This article by David Colquhoun is pushing the General Pharmaceutical Council into a corner. The Witch Doctor is curious how they will deal with these allegations, because, sooner or later, deal with them they must.

Indirectly, the article is also pushing the General Medical Council into another corner. What on earth will they do with those medical practitioners who choose to ignore the significance of Avogadro’s number? Will they fail to be revalidated because they peddle “snake oil?”

Will they lose their license to practice?

I suppose they will have to – otherwise revalidation will lose every vestige of credibility.

Won’t it, My Black Cat?

Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 2, 2013

Ladbrokes and O2 – are you out there?


The Witch Doctor remembers as a child willing herself to become old enough to gamble on the fruit machines buried deep in a “games arcade” at a holiday resort. There were other interesting contraptions too with the potential to make a child very rich. When she did reach the designated age she lost all her pocket money. She soon gave up.

The adult Witch Doctor in the past has been known to do the odd line in the football pools, occasionally tried to “Spot the Ball” (she thought she could do this scientifically by following the direction of the players eyes). She never won anything so she soon gave up.

However, she can still feel the gambler’s wonderful adrenaline surge and can fully understand the addiction. Maybe that is why she gave up.

Anyway, this post is really about her mobile phone.

If you have been reading this blog over the years, you will be aware that The Witch Doctor is a great fan of iPhones, iPads and all things Apple dating right back to the very first Macintosh. It has to be said, though, that she is not seduced by every latest upgraded version. She is very selective before she buys a new model.

Take her iPhone for example. She reckons she was the first UK witch to purchase an iPhone – the first day the first model was released here. The interesting thing is that she has never upgraded this phone. Her kids, friends and colleagues who mocked her at the time now all have their own iPhones and text relentlessly from them. They are all rather stupid and ill mannered. A phone is a phone. Even an iPhone is a phone.

Anyway, all this is beside the point.

It so happens that The Witch Doctor regards her iPhone only as an emergency device – a kind of accessory to the Book of Spells. It is a means of communicating that she has a flat tyre or breakdown to one of her kids who will then come out and sort it or phone for a garage to do the needful. It is also used as a means of her family contacting her when they are experiencing some kind of calamity that requires a witch’s presence. No-one except her immediate family and two friends know her mobile number. She gives it out to no-one. There is no need.

Today, The Witch Doctor received a text on her now becoming-a-collectable iPhone. It was from Ladbrokes. It advised me that if I bet £10, I get £30 free bets.

Has someone, somewhere along the line said “do her phone.”

If so, is this witch important enough to have her phone “done”?

Or does everyone, in this age of transparency have his or her “phone done?” by somebody or another.

So Ladbrokes and O2, can you tell me how a betting outfit knows The Witch Doctor’s phone number?

Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 26, 2013

Hands off our Kit Kats!


Because of the micro-meddling of the UK’s public health gurus, Nestle will change their recipe for Kit Kats in order to reduce the saturated fat content from 7.2g to 6.4g

If the taste of this well-loved snack changes, then The Humankind will just resort to deep-frying them in dripping, just as they do with Mars Bars!

There are unintended consequences when the Thought Police patrolling the “Responsibility Deal” try to meddle with the little decisions that people should make for themselves.

That’s all.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 25, 2013

Scary stuff? Seven is the witching number!


It is now seven years since The Witch Doctor first came across a certain name that was closely associated with the health care reforms attributed to Blair and Milburn. Indeed this person, as advisor to government, has been described as the architect of these reforms. It was also about the time that a private health care company, a European subsidiary of United HealthCare in the USA, had succeeded in taking over the running of an NHS general practice in Derby. It was the first time a large USA based healthcare organisation had been given UK tax-payers money for this purpose.

At an evening meeting on Thursday 12th January 2006 these reforms were described by the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland as “Scary Stuff.”

Since seven is The Witching Number it seems appropriate that the man who advised Blair and Milburn regarding their new (?scary) vision of the NHS has returned to the UK from the USA to replace Sir David Nicholson as Chief Executive of NHS England.

My Black Cat is tickled pink by this appointment. She is amused that some of those, who in the past have been so against the health care reforms, are now welcoming back the architect of these very reforms!

It is Creep at work, My Black Cat!

Human Creep.

Incidentally, this individual is Simon Stevens. Since 2004 he has been in the USA as a senior executive of United HealthCare. He made his mark there and seems to have been highly respected across the Atlantic for his abilities to enhance United HealthCare’s position in the international market.

“A spokesman for UNC commended Mr Stevens for his leadership over the company’s “truly significant entry into the international marketplace”.

Presumably he has come home to see through his concept that fuelled the Blair / Milburn reforms that were subsequently pushed through parliament by the current coalition government who ensured they attained legal status.

Mr Stevens seems to have sold some shares, presumably to avoid any accusations of conflict of interest.

“Although NHS England said Mr Stevens will “divest himself of any UnitedHealth Group shares before taking up his new NHS post in April, and will comply with all public service rules related to these matters,” a review of this agreement by NHS England chairman Sir Malcolm Grant will be made after Mr Stevens’s first year. Critics argue that this could pave the way for greater collaboration between the NHS and United HealthCare, which already runs some GP services in the UK.”

It is difficult to imagine that the “marketplace” and “consumerism” will not feature to a great extent in NHS England as a result of this appointment.

N.B. In addition to divesting his shares in United HealthCare, apparently Mr Stevens has taken a £20,000 voluntary cut in salary from that advertised (£211,000 per annum) for the first year.

Spare us this information.


It is in very bad taste!

Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 20, 2013

NHS fraud and legal loopholes


Me and My Black Cat have been rendered catatonic by all the ridiculous and horrible things going on in the world today, hence the silence.

However, we thought we’d better read this stuff.


On the other hand, it’s OK that firms running NHS care services avoid millions in tax since it is totally legal.

What do you think of that, My Black Cat?

Firms apparently under scrutiny :

Partnerships in Care Owned by Cinven, a leading European private equity firm.

Healthcare at Home owned by Vitruvian Partners – a European private equity firm.

Independent Clinical Services Owned by Blackstone

Spire Healthcare Owner : Cinven

Lifeways Owner: August Equity Partners

Priory Group Owner: Advent International Corporation is one of the world’s leading global buyout firms.

Acorn Care Owner: The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan board

Care UK Owner: Bridgepoint

Tunstall Owners: Charterhouse and Bridgepoint

Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 10, 2013

Ramblings on handbags and cherries


Well, My Black Cat, seemingly there is a right hue and cry about a handbag!

Apparently a well-known celebrity who is not well known in Switzerland was told that she would not be able to afford a particular handbag.

The Handbag in question cost £22,000 for goodness sake!

If The Witch Doctor, regardless of her perceived or actual wealth or lack of it, was contemplating spending that amount of money on a handbag, or even showing an interest in it, then she might be grateful to a shop assistant who brought her down to earth with a bang in whatever way possible.

A change of topic……

The Witch Doctor has a totally abnormal addiction to fresh fruit. You would not believe the amount of fruit she can devour during a day, so she won’t tell you.

However, this addiction means that she considers herself to be a bit of a fruit connoisseur.

Take cherries.

Her favourite cherry is the beautiful, sweet, white cherry known as the Rainier cherry. They are quite difficult to come by where she lives. But during July and early August they are available in a well-known chain store in a neighbouring small town.

So every year, The Witch Doctor, during the summer months, frequents this chain for her grocery shopping so that she can add in a supply of “white cherries.”

Yesterday she cleared the shelf by adding the remaining three single layered packs of these cherries to her shopping basket. On this occasion no comment was made by the check out assistant.

This is unusual.

On most occasions over the years the check out assistant says:

“Do you know these cherries cost £8.00 a punnet? Will I put them back?”


“Are these cherries a gift or for yourself? Do you know they cost £8.00 a punnet”?

The Witch Doctor usually just smiles and says “I know” but when she feels slightly more belligerent she replies something along the lines of:

“No they are for me. I’m worth it.”


“It’s OK. I don’t smoke, drink, or go out with men, so I can just about afford them.”

Now then, My Black Cat, do you suppose I should report these recurring events to the papers and the BBC?

After all it might be that The Witch Doctor is continually being subjected to some kind of illegal racist, or sexist, or ageist, or some other kind of …”ist” attack!

Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 7, 2013

The elderly : China’s way


To all nations their own way.

What do you mean by that, My Black Cat?

Here is China’s way of dealing with the elderly – necessary partly because of the unintended consequences of their one-child policy.

“The “Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly People” bill says children must care for their parents’ “spiritual needs” as well as their physical needs – which are already protected by law – as they grow older.

Filial devotion is a serious business in China, and is deeply etched in the national psyche. But the transformation of Chinese society over three decades of reform has played havoc with the traditional family model, as younger generations leave home to work in cities, and no longer stay behind to care for their aged parents. Retirement homes are a rarity, and decent pension provision is also a long way away.”

Hmm, I came across a video today My Black Cat.


What do you suppose will happen if the only son or daughter has emigrated to say Europe or the USA? How can they follow the law? Are they made to return home frequently? Will they avoid returning home because a punishment awaits them? Will there be a requirement to stay in China until their parents die? Should the UK ensure the Chinese doctors employed here have no elderly parents at home?

Who knows, My Black Cat. Governments and leaders in China, the UK and everywhere else should always be aware of the unintended consequences of their pronouncements and laws. On occasions when these consequences are easily foreseeable governments should in some way be held accountable for them.

The video is probably some kind of propaganda.

I think.

We don’t have propaganda in the UK any more. Now we call it “Nudge”

Indeed, today The Witch Doctor learned yet another new term.

“Choice architect”

How clever is that?

Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 6, 2013

Berwick review into patient safety


The Berwick review into patient safety has just been published, My Black Cat.

Huh. You’re already reading it! You are keen to see whether they are following your advice that you want made law.

“She thinks that all documents related to healthcare from whatever source, be it government, hospital, or any other body using public money, should have the first page after the title page completely dedicated to giving a summary of the full costs. It should also indicate those private companies, charities or individuals who benifit financially from the exercises. Included on this page should be an estimated cost for NHS staff time lost due to preparation and meetings. Any link on this page should not be a hide-and-seek exercise to find the full costs but rather one clear direct link for those who are interested in obtaining more detailed information on the full breakdown of the costs.”

I’ll bet you won’t find that degree of transparency in this document My Black Cat. However go through it with a fine toothcomb and, if it makes you feel better, have a fizzy fit if there is nothing there about the costs of this review to the taxpayer.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 4, 2013

Keogh Review and a new law?


Julie has counted the number of clicks it takes to find the real cost of the Keogh Review from the public purse.

It takes 6 clicks.

This, of course, is a ridiculous number.

It would have been much better to have seven clicks, since SEVEN is the magic number.

But what if those sitting on Reviews, Committees, etc are unable to generate magic?

What if the number SEVEN means nothing to those who make decisions about how our money is spent?

What if there are no witches on these committees?

What should be done then, to ensure those who use the NHS are informed clearly and concisely about where their money has gone?


For once, My Black Cat has come up with a very sensible answer.

Indeed, it is so sensible, that she is certain that someone, somewhere, will start lobbying parliament for this to become the law of the land.

She thinks that all documents related to healthcare from whatever source, be it government, hospital, or any other body using public money, should have the first page after the title page completely dedicated to giving a summary of the full costs. It should also indicate those private companies, charities or individuals who benifit financially from the exercises. Included on this page should be an estimated cost for NHS staff time lost due to preparation and meetings. Any link on this page should not be a hide-and-seek exercise to find the full costs but rather one clear direct link for those who are interested in obtaining more detailed information on the full breakdown of the costs.

After all, it is our money collected from us to be used for the communal health benefit. When times are hard, such a law would ensure the public can see for themselves whether activities related to healthcare are being sensibly prioritised or whether money is being wasted debating ideas and activities that are clearly unworkable.

Well, My Black Cat, it seems this is one of your more sensible ideas.

But who is going to lobby for you?

No-one will listen to a cat!

And you’re not going to get any help from me! This old witch has far too many other things to do right now!

Posted by: Witch Doctor | August 2, 2013

Keogh Review : Page 49


Back to the Keoch Review.

It is a change for the better? Page 49 is the beginning of an attempt to include the cost of the review within the document itself. This is not new – a doctor in The Witch Doctor’s hospital attempted to do this many years ago.

Is Page 49 accurate or not?

After all, it gives a link to “GOV.UK”

However, if you had been paying attention you might have noticed that The Witch Doctor’s spelling is not up to scratch.

She made a common error : It is not “Keoch” but “Keogh.”

This is important because, unlike Google, not all searches incorporate sound checks.

It looks as if “GOV UK” does not incorporate sound-checks in its search engine. So if you can’t spell, are not familiar with the vagaries of the English language, are careless, are in a hurry, or are not used to paying attention to detail, then you might reach a dead end when you search for information on “GOV UK.” And it will be entirely your own fault if you can’t find what you are looking for. “GOV UK” will not help you with your deficiencies.

Anyway, when you click from page 49 of the Keogh Review, you have to click again.

Your click arrives at “Service Contracts Finder”

You have to click “Start now”…..

This takes you to a page “Welcome to the Contracts Finder”

You then have to do a search. You have two choices. You can enter a keyword to “FIND OPPORTUNITIES.” Or you can enter a keyword to “SEE WHAT IS BEING BOUGHT BY GOVERNMENT”

The Witch Doctor typed in “Keoch Report” using the search “SEE WHAT IS BEING BOUGHT BY GOVERNMENT”

She was told “We found 0 results for your search. Try again”

Thinking she might have used the wrong term, she tried again.

This time she searched for “Keoch Review”

She was told “We found 0 results for your search. Try again”

Then she checked her spelling of “Keogh”

She found it!

There it is:

“Support to the Review into the Quality of Care and Treatment

asked Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to review the quality of care and treatment provided by those NHS Trusts”

LOCATION : England

DATE: 15 November 13

VALUE : £2,773,614”

If you can be bothered, you can click again to obtain further details of the contract.

If you eventually get round to clicking “Awarded Suppliers” you find this:

“PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
7 More London, Riverside, London, SE1 2RT
Awarded value: 2773614.00
Is the supplier likely to sub-contract? No
Supplier is a Small or Medium Enterprise: No
Is the awarded organisation a voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation? No”

Just count the number of clicks it takes until you find something approaching the real cost of the Keogh Review to the taxpayer.

It is something in the region of £2,773,614 + £169,000 + £28,000 + £30,000

Presumably, in addition, there will be extra costs relating to the time spent by hospital staff preparing and participating in the visits by the 190 panelists.

To most of us, this is quite a lot of money – our money that is going towards healthcare.

And most people will be quite unaware of the real figure – even the few who cared to read page 49 of the Keogh Review.


Because The Witch Doctor can confidently tell you that most people nowadays just scan documents such as this. Even those who read carefully don’t bother to click. If they do click they will not click repeatedly to delve deeply into a document, and most will definitely not persevere if their spelling is not up to scratch.

So, most people have no idea how much The Keogh Review has cost them as taxpayers.

Since it is the money YOU pay to the government to fund the NHS then it seems entirely appropriate to The Witch Doctor that the Keogh Review should have made it clear on Page 49, without having to click, that PricewaterhouseCoopers was awarded £2,773,614 for the contract for this review. 

Then they could have consulted The Abacus which would have told them that:

£2,773,614 + £169,000 + £28,000 + £30,000 = £3,000,614

They should also have made it clear that there were other “hidden costs” more difficult to evaluate as members of NHS staff participated in the exercise rather than performing their usual work.

That, is what we witches mean by “transparency.”

But I suppose “Page 49″ is a start to clearing the opacities around healthcare spending even if this document has quite a long way to go before making the taxpayers’ expenditure crystal clear.

Eh, My Black Cat?

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 30, 2013

NHS111 and telephone consultations


In view of the current news, the spirit is moving this Black Cat to regurgitate a post that appeared in this blog round about April Fools day.

Here it is :



My Black Cat is reminding me that they brought in people like window-cleaners to man the ‘flu helpline a few years ago.

The Witch Doctor thought this was ridiculous at the time but supposed there was a bit of a panic and they had either run out of qualified people to do the job or they were not prepared to pay a professional wage.

The new NHS111 service is due to be rolled out on April Fool’s Day. Who on Earth would be witless enough to roll out a new service like this over the Easter Holiday weekend? That speaks volumes.

According to Jobbing Doctor, those triaging patients are likely to be “trained” teenagers employed on low wages.

“Lets have a single number that can be used and services can be channelled through this. We don’t need expensive nurses to run it any more, we can now have barely trained teenagers to do it on the minimum wage. National standards, uniform quality, cost effective: what’s not to like?

The answer is just about everything. At least the nurses had a modicum of training in medicine to fall back on: the teenagers won’t. There will be a culture of covering your a*** in this system where any departure from the easiest algorithm will be met by “Call an Ambulance” or “Visit your doctor within 6 hours”

The Witch Doctor totally and utterly disapproves of doctors participating in telephone consultations apart from in circumstances that are well-defined and exceptional. It should never be considered best practice. In the past she herself has initiated a telephone consultation service in such well-defined and exceptional circumstances and so she knows a little about the advantages and limitations of such a venture. She can, however, think of no circumstances when it would be safe to use a routine telephone consultation in an emergency or out of hours setting. That means she does not approve of NHS Direct, NHS 24 nor any similar service manned by medical staff, nurses, or lay persons. These services up till now have been telephone consultations that generally do not in the first instance involve a doctor although the conversation with a nurse may well direct the patient towards seeing a doctor in a face-to-face consultation.

But doctors creep.

The General Medical Council creeps.

The government creeps.

It has gradually become OK with doctors, the GMC and government to employ “others,” untrained in medicine, to follow algorithms in order to make a diagnosis without seeing the patient. However, algorithms, although useful in certain circumstances as a type of personal “Aide Memoire” are really only a way of propelling a patient down a “pathway” which takes them on a “journey” which may or may not lead them to a proper face to face consultation with a medical practitioner. It may or may not lead them to an accurate diagnosis. In this witch’s view, an “Aide Memoire” whether it be a reminder such as putting your shoes on the wrong feet, tying a knot of string around your finger, or peering at an algorithm on a computer screen should always, in the case of making a medical diagnosis, be used in conjunction with full medical training and experience. The medical training The Witch Doctor received involved spending time with the whole patient, not just a distant voice. It involved taking a full medical history followed by examination.

This too has crept. It is a rare thing for a doctor nowadays to have enough available time to take a full medical history and do a proper examination.

This is Bad Medicine.

It is very easy, especially when time is limited, to put the tick in the wrong box that leads to a patient embarking on a journey along a path whose destination is disaster. Sure, the qualified medical practitioner may get it badly wrong during a time limited face-to-face consultation but at least, in these circumstances, there is somebody in charge who has professional responsibility for the error or malpractice.

Who exactly would be responsible if a wrong turning is taken by a teenager / student / window-cleaner / nurse employed from April Fool’s day by NHS111?

Nobody of course…….

Just as nobody was responsible for Mid-Staffordshire……….

So, it seems things are now going from bad to worse in England.



However, The Witch Doctor thinks that the easily remembered single number 111 could be developed in such a way that it has an important function – an information resource only – a function that would not involve triaging patients in an out of hours / emergency situation utilising teenagers and others “trained” to play at being doctors and nurses.

My Black Cat has an idea to enhance such a “111 information only” service. She believes that many patients who own a computer would themselves be able to follow algorithms much more safely than “trained” teenagers or others who are not medically qualified. They would be able to take their time to do so. They would have more of a chance of answering the questions accurately. They would be able to have ongoing observations of their condition that may lead them down a different pathway. Many patients will be far more knowledgeable about many things including their own health issues than those “trained teenagers” and others supposed to be triaging them.

Is it madness having patients triaging themselves or ill relatives by using an algorithm to decide whether it is necessary to see a doctor?

No doubt.

But not nearly as mad as the Creep that is already happening as a result of the demise of medical professionalism carefully orchestrated by Alan Milburn – a previous, and very clever, Secretary of State for Health responsible for offering a huge financial carrot to GPs and consultants leading to a change in contracts. A change that opened the door to healthcare becoming a commodity.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 25, 2013

Revisiting a change for the better


Well, My Black Cat, after all the excitement of a royal birth, it is time to focus ourselves on more mundane matters.

We were, in our post on 17th July, discussing change. A better kind of change – or so we thought.

So, what have you discovered when you followed the two links on our post, My Black Cat?


You have discovered you had to get the abacus out and add up some figures on Page 49 of the Keoch Review?

And what were these figures My Black Cat?

The cost of The Keoch Review was £169,000 + £28,000 + £30,000

That gives a total cost of £227,000

Well, My Black Cat, it is good that the Keoch Review has devoted a whole page to informing us how much it has cost the taxpayer. That surely is what the chairman of the committee that we mentioned in our post was trying to achieve.




But you, My Black Cat, are behaving like a mediocre cat belonging to The Humankind rather than a witch.

In fact, you are being a very, very stupid cat.

Go and read page 49 of The Keoch Report again.

The Page is called:

“Annex B Resources required for the review. “

This time concentrate your mind.

Read it carefully.

And once you have discovered how stupid you are, let me know the TRUE COST to the taxpayer of the Keoch Review.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 23, 2013

No home birth for a king


Oh dear, My Black Cat, the wonder of the birth of a child (any child) is being dampened down by the wet blanket Republicans who seem to have a need to get in their tuppence-worth.

Republicans or Royalists, they all seem to be missing an important point.

The latest addition to the Royal family was not delivered at home.

Presumably it would have been possible to have very comfortable labour and delivery rooms with all sorts of accoutrements such as birthing pools available at Kensington Palace, any other palace, or the Middleton’s home.

Presumably there are competent midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, paediatricians etc who could have been enticed to be close at hand for a home delivery in a palace or a country house.

Presumably all sorts of expensive equipment could have been wheeled in for the occasion.

Presumably this would have resulted in more privacy for the couple and avoided disruption in the street around the hospital.

Presumably it would also have avoided possible leaks and pranks such as the one resulting in the tragedy of a nurse who committed suicide during the Duchess of Cambridge’s earlier admission with morning sickness.

Nevertheless, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decided to have their first child in a hospital setting.

Perhaps they were advised it would be safer. After all, when things go wrong in obstetrics, they can go wrong very quickly and all sorts of expertise, medications and equipment might be required immediately.

This, after all, is a future King.

Perhaps this baby is special.

Perhaps the “home birth targets” don’t count for future kings.

Perhaps this baby is more special than the babies of the twee parents who would move mountains to have a home delivery for their offspring (and for themselves).

Perhaps the would-be republicans who are fussing over the fuss would be better to fuss over government targets for home births.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 17, 2013

A better kind of change


Well, My Black Cat, I’m back!

While The Witch Doctor was away it seems you have been rambling on giving your less than erudite thoughts on various things that you know nothing about.

I’m going to test you to see whether you’ve been concentrating properly.

Take these two recent publications for example.



Professor Sir Bruce Keogh KBE.

Did you notice something unusual about them?


Didn’t think you would…

If you listen carefully to this story then it will give you a clue.

Once upon a time in a hospital that The Witch Doctor knows very well, there were lots and lots of committee meetings. Indeed some doctors seemed to spend more time sitting round these talking tables than they spent in consultation with their patients.

The chairman of one of these committees became aware of this and he decided to do something that had never been done before. He looked at his watch at the start of each meeting and he made a note, not only of all those who attended, but he also privately graded them according to their likely salaries. He then worked out the approximate hourly rate that each attending member of the committee was paid.

When the secretary of the committee had completed the minutes the chairman insisted they were then handed over to him. He then calculated the number of man / woman hours that had been spent at the committee and indicated the approximate cost in sterling. This was an indication of the contribution made by the taxpayer to the meeting. The minutes contained this information when they were circulated to members of the committee and to senior hospital managers.

He could have gone further and added the time taken to read all the documentation distributed by the committee and the preparation time for any action taken. He didn’t though because he was just trying to make the point that committees have a responsibility not to waste taxpayers’ money.

This poor doctor didn’t last long as a chairman since it was deemed inappropriate to cost in this way the many meetings that were going on in that hospital.

But times might be changing.

For the better……

That’s the only clue I’m going to give you, My Black Cat. Now go back and read these two documents thoroughly and pay attention!

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 16, 2013

Musings on the Keogh Review


Review into the quality of care and treatment provided by 14 hospital trusts in England: overview report

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh KBE.


Deficiencies in :





STAFFING LEVELS (Unspecified) (6)







Huh! There is not much point in measuring mortality, morbidity, complaints, legal compensation costs etc as indicators of poor quality care when staffing levels are inadequate to examine, diagnose, treat, observe and provide even the most basic care for patients, if these patients are difficult for doctors to find because they are continually being moved around or are “outliers” (i.e. boarded out in inappropriate wards) or the equipment is unsafe.

Maybe correct all of this first, then count things if funds allow?


But then, these are just the views of a simple witch’s cat with a preference for hands on activities like hunting rats rather than measuring them.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 16, 2013

LCP, Mid-staffordshire(s), Death Matters, Euthanasia


It is no secret that The Witch Doctor is no fan of the “Liverpool Care Pathway”, or indeed any of the “pathways” or “journeys” that patients are expected to stagger along nowadays.

She’s not keen on “tools” or “toolboxes” either.

And she loathes protocols because they make the people who tick the boxes witless.

She is totally and utterly against euthanasia or assisted suicide.

She also hates social engineering, especially when driven by governments.

It seems to The Witch doctor that the charity “Death Matters” started off as a social engineering outfit fuelled initially by the last labour government. It is an outfit fronted by the specialists in palliative medicine.

Maybe The Liverpool Care Pathway, the Mid-Staffordshires of the NHS, euthanasia and Death Matters are all intertwingled to a greater or lesser extent.

The NHS is unravelling and This Black Cat needs to get her head round it all.

For the life of her she can’t remember what The Witch Doctor has posted in the past about her scepticism about “a good death.”

So, there is some homework to be done before The Witch Doctor returns:













With a bit of luck, studying these posts will help This Black Cat make sense of these important Intertwinglements.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 15, 2013

LCP : More Care, Less Pathway






“The Liverpool Care Pathway should be phased out and replaced by an individual end of life care plan, an independent review led by Baroness Julia Neuberger recommended today.

The review was commissioned by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb in January 2013, because of serious concerns arising from reports that patients were wrongly being denied nutrition and hydration whilst being placed on the Pathway.

Senior Rabbi at the West London Synagogue and crossbench peer, Baroness Neuberger and her panel now recommend that use of the Liverpool Care Pathway should be phased out over the next six to 12 months, and be replaced by a personalised end of life care plan, backed up by good practice guidance specific to disease groups.

The Review panel recognised that, when applied correctly, the Liverpool Care Pathway does help patients have a dignified and pain-free death. And they support the principles underpinning it. However, they heard of too many cases where the LCP was simply being used as a ‘tick box’ exercise, its users failing to take account of a patient’s individual needs.

Today the report makes 44 recommendations. In addition to replacing the Liverpool Care Pathway, others include:
• A general principle that a patient should only be placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway or a similar approach by a senior responsible clinician in consultation with the healthcare team.
• Unless there is a very good reason, a decision to withdraw or not to start a life-prolonging treatment should not be taken during any ‘out of hours’ period.
• An urgent call for the Nursing and Midwifery Council to issue guidance on end of life care.
• An end to incentive payments for use of the Liverpool Care Pathway and similar approaches
• A new system-wide approach to improving the quality of care for the dying.

Speaking today, Baroness Neuberger said:
“There is no doubt that, in the right hands, the Liverpool Care Pathway supports people to experience high quality and compassionate care in the last hours and days of their life.
“But evidence given to the review has revealed too many serious cases of unacceptable care where the LCP has been incorrectly implemented. Examples include leaving patients without adequate nutrition, hydration and inappropriately sedated. This is not only awful for the patients, but it is deeply distressing to their relatives and carers.

“Caring for the dying must never again be practised as a tick box exercise, and each patient must be cared for according to their individual needs and preferences, with those of their relatives or carers being considered too. Ultimately it is the way the LCP has been misused and misunderstood that has led to such great problems, along with it being simply too generic in its approach for the needs of some people. Sadly it is just too late to reverse this and turn the clock back to get it used properly by everybody. That is why we have recommended phasing out the LCP and replacing it with a more personalised and clinically sensitive approach.”

“What we have also exposed in this Review is a range of far wider, fundamental problems with care for the dying – a lack of care and compassion, unavailability of suitably trained staff, no access to proper palliative care advice outside of 9-5 Monday to Friday.

“All the major players in the health and care system, including the Government, need to do their part in reforming care for the dying, so that people everywhere can be sure they will be treated with respect and compassion, supported to die a peaceful, dignified death.”

The LCP was recommended as a model of good care by the Department of Health’s End of Life Care Strategy in 2008, by the General Medical Council in 2010, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in 2011.

It was designed to be used as a means to manage a patient’s pain and distress when clinicians considered that they were in their last hours or days of life, and there was no appropriate reversible treatment for their condition.

The Review panel held four sessions around the country and heard evidence from relatives and carers and clinicians with experience of the LCP, along with a number of organisations.

More than 650 submissions were received and carefully reviewed by the Panel members, who undertook this work without payment because of their deep concerns.

The Panel has decided to meet again during the winter to monitor progress made on the recommendations.”


Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 12, 2013

Down with the lunch-box spies!


No doubt The Witch Doctor will be pleased that Her Ever Faithful Black Cat remembers her blog post of January 2010. Nobody paid any attention to it then and they probably won’t now!

However, governments, teachers, and naval gazers should beware of poking noses into lunch boxes.

After all, any one of them might belong to a Witch Child.

13 January 2010


As an act of rebellion, tonight The Witch Doctor had a big dinner plate of chips cooked in dripping and sprinkled with a huge bar of grated Cadbury’s melting milk chocolate.

And a big mug of tea with milk and 4 spoonfuls of sugar. Ugh – The Witch Doctor hates tea with sugar!

All because of THIS

Let’s talk about fruit and vegetables.

Over the years, The Witch Doctor has come across patients at her clinic who have never tasted a cherry, not a single one. Others wouldn’t know a gooseberry if they saw one. Many have never eaten peas shelled straight from the garden. Children nowadays think strawberries are a crunchy and tasteless fruit to be avoided at all costs and that pears and turnips come from the same family.

Almost no young person who has ever attended my clinic has tasted a Black Hamburg grape with stones. It is just as well, because they wouldn’t know what to do with the stones – because all the grapes they have ever tasted are cloned seedless. Yet they have never tasted the wonderful old sweet seedless sultana grapes.

And plums. Where are the dark skinned sweet juicy Santa Rosa plums? They have been replaced with horrible hard atrocities that are only fit for stewing. And what about the sweet, juicy seasonal Victoria plums that grow so well in the UK? Most youngsters have never tasted them.

Apples? How many youngsters know the UK is an excellent apple growing country and could have thousands of varieties to choose from (although probably many are now extinct.)

Ayrshire potatoes? You can barely find them even in Ayrshire. They are called “Ayrshires” of course. They are not. A true Ayrshire potato has to be grown in sandy soil that is fertilised with two different types of seaweed at particular times of the year. Pembroke’s and Jersey Royals are the nearest but are not a patch on the real Ayrshire potato properly grown.

No young people today have ever had the pleasure of eating a plate of Ayrshire potatoes smothered in butter. Yes, butter – the nasty stuff!

It makes me weep!

Ladies and Gentlemen who are trying to change the eating habits of our children, please listen to this witch.

You are getting it wrong!


Instead of poking your nose into school children’s packed lunches and giving them hang-ups that their parents are not feeding them properly, why don’t you tackle the supermarkets and tell them to sell local produce when in season. Then there might be some kind of incentive for local farmers to grow decent fruit and vegetables.

There are many reasons why parents may not feed their children properly. Some of them are very complex.

Why don’t you ensure that every school has a garden and the children are taught about fruit and vegetable growing every year. Let them take their fresh produce home for a good meal at night. It would be a superb investment. Gardening is an experience that will last a lifetime. It also makes many people happy and can help them through difficult times in their lives. It’ll probably keep the young tearaways out of trouble too!

And the exercise will keep them fit and slim.

In fact, why don’t all you busy-bodies get out your wellies and spades and volunteer as gardening supervisors at your local school!

If The Witch Doctor is an expert in anything it is in fruit and vegetables. She might even be a world authority! She is not a vegetarian but she eats more raw fruit than anyone she has ever met. She always has and she always will. In fact she has many stories she could tell you about fruit and vegetables. Perhaps some day she will.

What she would never do, however, is comment on the contents of a child’s lunch box unless she was specifically asked by a parent to do so. She would regard it as an intrusion into the life of a family.

Just as she regards this sort of thing as an intrusion also.

We witches are very contrary beings!

If you poke your nose into any lunch box belonging to A Witch Child, something with many legs and teeth will jump out and bite it off and then then crawl all over you!

redapple.jpg a red apple ……………………

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page





© Dlundin |

Posted by: Witch Doctor | July 5, 2013

When I’m sixty five


In The Witch Doctor’s absence, it only seems right that Her Black Cat commemorates the day the National Health Service becomes a pensioner.

5 July 1948


“Your new National Health Service begins on 5th July.

What is it?

How do you get it?

It will provide you with all medical, dental and nursing care. Everyone – rich or poor, man woman or child – can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a “charity”. You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness.”

The NHS has metamorphosed.

NOTE: “In times of illness”

They say money for healthcare is short. If that is indeed the case, perhaps we should revert to the principles of the original NHS. With the exception of immunisation, the detection of contagious diseases, and ensuring children received nutritional supplements, it was largely a National Illness Service. It was not overly concerned with warning, screening or medicating healthy people.

“National Illness Service” sounds negative and depressing. “National Health Service” sounds positive and invigorating. It is no wonder they chose the latter name.

But maybe, with hindsight, that was a mistake.

It gave society permission to dabble in preventive medicine. Nothing wrong with that – except that everything The Humankind touches upon has the habit of creeping into absurdity.

Perhaps warning, screening or treating healthy patients (clients?) should be regarded as “special items” that you pay for as you choose, but not through taxation. Perhaps charities might have a more important role here – a role that is less dubious than some have at present.

Regarding preventive medicine – perhaps the NHS should send a brief annual leaflet to every household advising how to live healthily, updated yearly as medical opinion changes as it not infrequently does. Patient choice.

And leave it at that.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | June 10, 2013

“Prism” and other “shocking” things


The Black Cats of the world are not fans of Facebook.

There is a right old hue and cry going on about something known as “Prism.”

The Black Cats of the witching community are not very surprised about the revelations coming out whether or not they turn out to be correct. There have been mutterings for some time about links between Facebook and the CIA.

It seems as if The Guardian has been following the trail of the security involvement with social media for some time.

This article appeared in The Guardian in 2008.

The Witch Doctor, being slow off the mark, didn’t mention it much until 2011 when there was a bit of a fracas among the medical profession in Facebook. At that time she took an opportunity to have a bit of a rant about what might be considered to be REALLY shocking in this world.

Here is the rant of 2011:


No matter what your thoughts are regarding the last post where Cynthia, the employer, scouted around the internet looking for Candy’s (the prospective employee) “extended CV,” it has to be accepted that an individual’s internet presence will be tapped into by employers, prospective employers and disciplinary bodies. It is one of life’s realities – a by-product of the World Wide Web.

Candy, the Tantalising Tweeter, the Face Book Fanatic, The Bebo Baby, has learned much from the older woman. She will have been told many times by others to be careful what she said on Internet forums but this advice fell on deaf ears because it came from over cautious “old fogies” like her sister Carmen.

It was not until it became very personal that Candy realised that she had left important cyber-fingerprints that could influence important aspects of her life. And that influence could be detrimental.

She had never thought about what she said on Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Blogging or comments on other’s blogs could become an appendage to her CV.

Last week some doctors said some pretty “shocking” things on Twitter.


It seems the conversation was continued into Facebook but this witch is not a Facebook Fanatic so she has no idea what was going on there. It was probably very rude as people became embroiled in the argument.

Apparently the news spread across the pond. Some were “aghast” over there rather than “shocked.” Some extracts are here:


So far, nothing was said in what she read that shocked this witch in the slightest.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Perhaps The Witch doctor was shocked that other doctors were so easily “shocked!”

Irritated? Maybe. Maybe not.

Disappointed? Maybe. Maybe not.



Surely not.

These “shocked” and “angry” people are doctors, for pities sake! Since a doctor has to face many shocking situations during a medical career, she wondered how on earth, these sensitive “shocked” doctors would cope if faced with situations that were indeed shocking.

It even reached The Telegraph. Medical banter is clearly much more “shocking” news than the Health and Social Care Bill about to tip toe quietly through the House of Lords. A Bill that will be so subject to “Creep” that it will eventually destroy the NHS.

Perhaps everyone should waken up and be shocked and angry by that!

The derogatory terms mentioned by the tweeting doctors were Labia Wards, Madwives, Cabbage Patches and Birthing Sheds.

It is Black Humour.

Most Black Humour is derogatory if you want to look on it that way.

Doctors since the beginning of time have used Black Humour. There are probably many reasons for this. Maybe somebody somewhere has published research papers on the phenomenon. The Witch Doctor has never thought it important enough to study at all, but off the top of her head thinks it might be the result of:

A type of coping strategy

An attempt to “harden-up” emotionally

An attempt to hide an over-sensitive personality from colleagues

There may be all sorts of deep-rooted psychological reason for Black Humour, but in The Witch Doctor’s view much of it is simply clever banter by sharp brains.

The Witch Doctor is not a feminist although some who know her in real life suspect she might be.

She believes men and women are very different.

Women when huddled together tend to look into each others souls whereas men tend to cover up their souls with banter.


A couple of years ago The Witch Doctor was in a situation where a group of electricians, builders, painters and plumbers were all working together in a small space. They were all employed separately and none of them knew each other well. They were all thrown together. There was no delving into each other’s lives, or feelings, or souls. That was taboo. It was just bravado and banter. Banter at its best. Sharp and witty banter scattered with plenty of black humour. The Witch Doctor was in a small room next door almost rolling about on the floor laughing. These tradesmen forgot she was there. It was just as well because if they had remembered there was a witch, and a “lady” witch at that next door, then probably they would just have whistled!

Male doctors are just the same as these tradesmen. A few females are too. And like them, some can be very witty.

Are these doctors who use Black Humour offensive?

Are they less caring?

Do they need to be educated in the art and science of empathy?

Do they need to be provided with a “Tool Box” to teach them Compassion?

Do they need their regulators to spy on them?

Have a look at what the GMC are up to now.

Is this the beginning of something that will creep?

My Black Cat is of the opinion that such Creep is inevitable. She has also been muttering something about links between Facebook and the CIA after Dr Phil’s comment on the last post.

Now, if true, such a link might be considered by some to be much more “shocking” than the Black Humour of the medical profession.

Yes, The Health and Social Care Bill and the Creep that will follow, the GMC spying on the private lives of all doctors, and now the possibility that the CIA are involved in social media.

These are the kind of things that shock witches.

Not Black Humour.

Posted by: Witch Doctor | June 8, 2013

Dying in dignity


Great. Just great!

Doctors are being nudged today!!!!

The Witch Doctor has asked me to open her mail while she is pussyfooting around The Parallel Universe.

This week’s British Medical Journal arrived this morning.

An enclosure fell out!

It is inconceivable that the editor of the BMJ has no knowledge of what leaflets accompany the BMJ each week. Especially when the enclosure touches on something as controversial as euthanasia and assisted dying.

Make no mistake about it. This leaflet accompanying the BMJ is designed to nudge the medical profession.

On the front page of the leaflet there is a photograph of a woman called Geraldine McClelland.

She says:

“By the time you read this I will have been assisted to die in Switzerland”

Inside are photographs of Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, Sir Patrcick Stewart OBE, Debbie Purdie, Prue Leith CBE, Sir Terence English. Their photographs are accompanied by words endorsing the work of the pressure group “Dignity in Dying.”

It is very easy to nudge The Humankind. Almost all of them find Creep easier than thinking things through for themselves. Governments, for example, know this.

If each individual thought through all to pros and cons of the euthanasia arguments for themselves without being brainwashed nudged by groups of high profile, vocal, articulate and sometimes terminally ill individuals who gather themselves together, it is likely most would see the downsides of allowing doctors or patients’ relatives to become executioners.

Life is not simple and tidy.

Death is not simple and tidy either. It should not be sanitised. Euthanasia, assisted suicide or not, there is no such thing as “A Good Death.”

Get real.

However, in death there can be a degree of dignity. But it requires the continuity of good medical and nursing care tailored to each individual patient and to those close to them. There is no reason either why a death should not take place naturally but accompanied with effective symptomatic relief in the patient’s own home and in his/her own bed if that is appropriate. That is what pressure groups should be seeking.

The Humankind often lacks empathy and and sometimes lacks an ethic too and that, along with not being bothered to think things through for themselves, leads to Creep. A Creep that easily can become evil.

No doubt The Witch Doctor will have much to say when she returns from her trip to Neverland.

In the meantime, by allowing this enclosure with the BMJ, it suggests to a simple Black Cat that the editor, Fiona Godlee, is in favour of promoting euthanasia / assisted suicide and is willing to play her part in winning round the medical profession to her way of thinking.

If so, she would do well to remember that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in the UK.

If not, she should say so, and stop allowing this pressure group access to the medical profession through the BMJ.

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