Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 17, 2008

My Black Cat, Sir Liam Donaldson and the BBC


Every now and then My Black Cat and I like to dedicate a day to the CMO of England, Sir Liam Donaldson.

We just spend a day thinking about him.


1. Because we are not sure how his mind works.
2. Because we tend to get a bit sentimental over him at times.

This time My Black Cat got very carried away.

I am becoming quite concerned about her.



Last week the CMO published a bit on the BBC website.

Presumably he was asked.

I hope they don’t ask us, My Black Cat.

We would find it a pain in the neck, since we are so busy doing important things.

But he didn’t, and he wasn’t, so he did what had to do. Probably the government was keen too.

This was picked up by Mad Sad Girl and the Jobbing Doctor. Neither were very impressed.

His opening gambit:

“Mercy Health Systems, a hospital in the US, serves patients the barium for their stomach X-rays in goblets on silver trays, rather than asking them to drink from a traditional plastic medicine cup.”




A marketing ploy, and he knows it.

Not something that will be top of his list of priorities in the UK.

Or maybe it will. Sir Liam’s brain is an enigma.

“I insist Mr Johnson, that all X-Ray Departments in the UK are provided with crystal goblets and silver trays in order that the punters customers can record on their feedback boxes to Iwantgreatcare,org that the radiologist concerned provided them with a great patient experience.

I am now working on how we can make a barium enema a great patient experience also, and will come back to you in due course. Some kind of crystal funnel will probably be involved.”

No. He’s not thinking along these lines.

So why mention it?

Then he goes on to talk about customers.

We witches have terms of respect for patients. Here they are in decreasing order.

The highest order of terminology for a person who needs the care and respect of a good health care system that is non-judgemental, highly ethical and does not entice a patient for treatment that he she may not want or need.

Implies a business arrangement that may or may not be professional and wholesome. Banks, prostitutes, insurance brokers, Reiki practitioners, financial advisers, hairdressers, all have clients. They may choose to use their own equivalents of silver trays or crystal goblets to attract these clients.

Nowadays customers are persons targeted by marketing. Customers are vulnerable because of the trait that permeates the whole of The Human Kind. The trait we witches call “creep.” Customers may be attracted because of a good service, but nowadays they are more commonly conned encouraged into buying goods or services they don’t really need because of marketing ploys. Almost all customers are subjected to the equivalent of crystal goblets and silver trays, so they don’t notice the barium within.

Here are some definitions of a punter.

1 a person who places a bet
2 Informal: any member of the public, esp. when a customer ie the punters flock into the sales
3 Slang: a prostitute’s client
4 Slang: a victim of a con man

We witches often use this term when we are trying to convey that there is no proper substitute for the word patient.

It would be “unprofessional” for the CMO to use the word “punter” to convey what he may be trying to get across. So he uses the next best thing – “customer.”

Does he knows full well that this term will antagonise many?

Does he, My Black Cat?

He says so.

“Over the years, many doctors and nurses have bridled at patients being viewed as their customers.

Somehow, the term “customer” conjured up for them an image of the supermarket checkout queue or the television advert for breakfast cereal. Possibly patients themselves may not equate their needs with those of a ‘customer’.

Yet, in a modern consumer society, people are bound to make comparisons.”

So why, My Black Cat, would he use a term that he knows will annoy many doctors and nurses and patients too for that matter?

redapple.jpg a red apple ……………………

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  1. Told you so, told you so – the real cat with the crush on Sir Liam is your black cat 🙂

    Will the Black Cat remember that divorce laws are going to be difficult under the conservatives so she may well be the next skeleton used for Liam’s demonstration lectures.

    Thankgod I didn’t take up that dinner date! Phew

    Bengal Tiger [ the Stripy cat]

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