Posted by: Witch Doctor | January 11, 2008

Dr Grumble’s Swansong



Dr Grumble has closed his blog. It still exists but only he can read it. The medical blogsphere is the poorer. He gives his reasons for closing the blog on the link below.


However, My Black Cat asked him if he would have no objection to her keeping some of his comments on a page beside her ar the top of The Witch Doctor Blog. She had grown quite attached to Dr Grumble and thought he talked a lot of sense.

He had no objection.

So, todays post is what Dr Grumble said just after it was discovered he had closed his blog. Soon it will appear in the page at the top called “Dr Grumble” as something easily accessed, to ponder upon now and then.

The photographs and labelling are My Black Cat’s embellishments. The italics are Dr Grumbles.



“I don’t know, Sam, whether the Grumble blog influenced anything but I am glad if it helped you understand how things are. Recently I found it frustrating to criticise CMO about his probably daft idea to fine hospitals for infections and then see David Cameron pick up CMO’s idea (as if it was his own). It was some time before either were challenged. The blog has really opened my eyes to how easy it is to spoon-feed lazy gullible journalists who don’t even pick up the phone to get a critique from anybody. And for that matter my eyes were opened to how lazy the politicians of all hues are in failing to think anything through beyond the initial soundbite. The trouble is that both major parties seem to have the same silly ideas. Now why is this? That is the key question that is connected with the one put to the Black Cat. Why does the government (as well as the opposition) talk down the NHS? As the Witch Doctor’s cat said it can only be to prepare the ground for the secret plan. How do I know there is a secret plan? I know only from the language they use. Words like plurality and contestability must be words intended to obfuscate. They surely have to mean privatisation or at least something similar.

Back to the question. Why is the government talking down the NHS? Why does it want to change an NHS that the public are happy with even if the government keep saying that they are not? And why do the Conservatives seem to have the same misguided ideas? Where could these ideas be coming from? I am not sure that the Black Cat has quite got there. You need to think who could possibly want to privatise the NHS. It isn’t the public. It isn’t the doctors or other NHS staff. So why can it be that politicians want it?



One of the cleverest things is to sell people things they don’t need and don’t even want. You can do this with the most amazing things. For example in this country we have wholesome running water everywhere. Years ago if you felt thirsty you got a drink from a tap. Now everywhere you look you see people swigging water from plastic bottles. They have even put a little teat on them so that Dr Grumble’s students take little sips in the middle of tutorials like babies with a bottle. This water costs more than petrol. People have the impression that they need to drink set amounts of this stuff (which is no cleaner than the liquid that comes out of a tap and in tests can be indistinguishable) to stay healthy. Dr Grumble has always known this to be essentially nonsense but the concept has only recently officially been debunked in the BMJ this Christmas. Where did our young people get this idea? Why do Dr Grumble’s children waste the money he gives them on extortionately expensive bottles of water, water that comes out of the Grumble tap for free? The answer is related to very clever manipulation of people’s thinking. Some years back there were several articles (not adverts) in the newspapers about how everybody needed to drink lots of water to keep healthy. Dr Grumble realised at the time that they were largely nonsense. Now how did those articles get there? He knows now because he has helped companies get articles on other topics into the papers. I did a post once predicting a spate of newspaper articles on a particular topic. That was because I knew that there was a company working on this. There’s a big industry out there doing this sort of thing.

So having told you that you can persuade people to think (as most people now seem to) that you need to sip water all day and pay for it more than you pay for petrol even though you can get it free from a tap, why do you think those in charge want to alter the NHS when patients are essentially rather happy with it and there are lobby groups in the US that seem to think it is the sort of system they should be aiming for? What one group can possibly benefit from privatisation? It isn’t easy to find the answer to this. Mrs Grumble is insistent that I do not tell you who is behind all of this because I have no evidence. The other problem you will find is that if you look for private companies behind this you may not find them. You may find a non-profit organisation and that will put you off your guard. It’s designed to. Some articles selling these new ideas have the word non-profit in the first sentence. It’s disingenuous. You need to stand back and think about where the profit is being made.

Take a look at this:



and keep an eye on the NHS Beacon sites.



(The Witch Doctor feels a blog coming on!)

Dr Grumble’s children are oblivious to what lies ahead. Medical students generally are. They worry only about their next set of exams. They naively think that all they have to do is qualify and then everything will be OK. The world we live in is tough. It always has been. It always will be. Some of the aims of MMC were a pipe dream. Expectations were raised that could never have been met and that has added to the problems. Dr Grumble’s father was a gynaecologist. It was not his first choice career. He had medical friends around the globe who left the UK because they could not get work. Yet at the same time our hospitals were full of foreign graduates. Little has changed. There have been good times but I myself struck a bad one.

By the way, Sam, I hardly knew what a blog was either. One day I just pressed the button to see how easy it was to create a blog and that is how Dr Grumble started. It’s not the right way to do it but I did not know then how it would get a life of its own – at least in my mind. As you have found it is not so difficult to blog. There are many out there with the same views as Dr Grumble. They too should tell the world where our health service is heading. I am not sure that British medical blogging is as vibrant as it should be given the crossroads that our health service is at. Part of the problem is that every senior doctor I speak to seems to think similarly but thinks that at the crossroads there is a no left turn sign and the road ahead is closed. In other words whatever we say will make no difference at all and we are going to have to turn right. Doctors have been neutered; nobody listens to them. Fortunately the public do not yet seem to have been taken in by the various blandishments.”


  1. 😦 … (sobbing)

  2. … Nina Simone not working!!! … At least you cant say, we’ve tried everything! 😉

  3. Nice music Sam. Good to listen to at the close of the witching hour.

    Never fear, it is working. Dr Grumble has been spotted in the comment section elsewhere.

    All is well.

  4. It is good music and I got to it before the Witch Doctor but managed to resist a response until now.

    I am going to think about going through the Grumble blog (as Sam suggested) and deleting anything I am not comfortable with. But that would be a lot of stuff to go through and I really am not sure I can be bothered. Just deleting it would be easier. In any case a few posts have very recently appeared on other sites – presumably copied from the Google cache. That makes me very glad that I have ended the blog in anticipation of possible trouble rather than because of trouble – because once a post is out you really have no control.

    Another problem is that to generate a bit of interest and to make the blog a good read you do need to ask questions about key powerful individuals. For entirely selfish career reasons it’s easier to do that if you are anonymous. But in a way I don’t feel that is quite proper.

    But many great people have guarded their anonymity,,2239162,00.html
    so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    You can see that I am trying to work out just what to do. Forgive me for airing my thoughts here but I think this blogging thing is potentially quite risky and perhaps sharing my thinking is useful for others.

    By the way I am flattered to have a tag at the top of your blog.

  5. Good to see you back Dr Grumble.

    On the subject of anonymity: “But in a way I don’t feel that is quite proper.”

    While acknowledging the concept of “if you have something to say, then stand up and be counted” The Witch Doctor has no problem with anonymity for the following reasons:

    1. When The Witch Doctor graduated many millenniums ago, “advertising” ones wares in medicine was extremely frowned upon and this is deeply rooted in The Witch Doctor’s psyche. Intentionally using one’s professional name in a blog might lead to patient interest and could be construed as a form of advertising. This is quite a different situation from one where readers guess the identity.

    2. If something controversial has to be said, and there is a chance that an employer/government/individual will not like it, then they only have wait for the writer to make a “faux pas” the legality of which could then be challenged in order to silence the doctor. Since the occasional slip of the pen is likely from time to time anonymity offers some protection. Lie low. It is better not to be silenced than to be silenced.

    3. It is all good fun – anonymity is a mischievous game. And what’s wrong with that.

    The Witch Doctor “scrambles” some things a bit so that his/her/their identity is not easily revealed. Even My Black Cat does this. It’s a game. However, The Witch Doctor would not want his/her/their colleagues to know about the blog, because the interest/advice/criticism that it might generate might turn into another of life’s hassles. There is no time for more hassles.

    Having said this, before starting to blog, The Witch Doctor considered the consequences of writing a post that offended the establishment.

    What would The Witch Doctor do if someone from the General Witching Council knocked on his/her/their door (lets just say “her” since most witches are female)? Nowadays it would be relatively easy to identify a blogger. The Witch Doctor is not a wealthy witch but she is not poor either. She did some sums. She decided she could still afford to buy the mince if her job ended tomorrow. She also decided that she had no ambition but to do the job she was trained to do – she has no need to seek extra reward for anything. Threats do not rattle The Witch Doctor in any way, indeed they make her chuckle – she regards them as a battle of wits.

    Once a senior colleague who is now dead, gave The Witch Doctor good advice – “To thyself be true.” It is good to care about what people think, but not too much.

    So all in all, The Witch Doctor decided she was in a good position to start blogging. There was probably nothing to lose. And there was much needed to be said. But it would be anonymous. She would use a ‘Nom de Plume”

  6. “once a post is out you really have no control.”

    What’s the point of deleting or closing up shop then! … 🙂

    I have an idea !

    Keep as draft one post, then search for it in google, if you can still find it, it means it will never go then you should leave the blog open because it makes no difference .. but I don’t think you will find it because, as far as I understand, closing up shop to members still preseves all content since there are members, albeit just yourself. However, keeping as draft is different because it is ‘not published’ … worth a try.

    Then again Dr G, if you were to suffer because of your content, you would have suffered long time ago! Since nothing happened, I’d just open up and continue. You never really said anything that was intolerable IMO, otherwise can you imagine what will happen to the ‘ranters’ of the blogsphere?! … Nothing!

    I think, either just continue or leave it open and start a new one for your own peace of mind. We want Dr G to be free!


    This one is for your witching hour Witch doctor, just close your witchy eyes and enjoy … see! Black cat is swaying on the floor already … 😉

    God bless insomnia …. rebellion … and freedom

  7. You have obviously both given this a lot of thought as I have. If fact I have thought of each and every one of the points you raise. I have even considered changing the posts into drafts to see what happens.

    I am grateful to you both for your very sensible advice. Forgive me if I do not respond any more to your suggestions but if I work out a way forward it would not be one I can publicise.

  8. Fair point Dr G. I promise to respect your decision and will not recognise you unless you want me to; unless you use the name Dr Grumble.

    Best regards,

    Sam 🙂


    This is for black cat to listen to in your witching hour Whitchdoctor. I fell head over paws with her since she wore that sexxxxy red ribbon ….. I have absloutely no resistance to a cat wearing red ribbons … RED is my star sign colour, see … 😉

  9. Where are the ‘ranters’ of the blogsphere?!

    Entitled Swan song, and we gave them songs! Serenades even! Where do you thing ‘they’ too gone now Witch doctor? You must have seen them when flying about at night, or, black cat …


  10. Yes, they were still down when I last tried. I think they said, though, that the were having server trouble or something over the holiday season and did not post so often because of it.

    A bit odd since there are several of them and they will have access to several computers.

    Hopefully they’ll be back.

    PS Have just tried again before I posted. They’re back up and running!

  11. Oh, good! One was beginning to feel a bit lonely out there, if it weren’t for you animal lovers! Good to have the ‘crowd back’ …

    …. said grumblingly ….

  12. Can you believe it? People are seeing sense at last.

  13. Maybe bottled water will turn out to be a fad like hula hoops, Rubik’s Cubes and yo-yos. But unlike them, bottled water is not much fun, so the marketing must have been superb.

    Incidentally, it was roasting at our clinic today and a young consultant colleague went out for something for us to drink. What did he bring back? Yes, I had my first swig of bottled water out of a babies bottle, but kept it well hidden from the patients though!

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