Posted by: Witch Doctor | March 18, 2009

A letter to Mr Brown, Mr Johnson and Mr Bradshaw


St Patrick’s Day 2009

Dear Mr Brown, Mr Johnson and Mr Bradshaw,


It is high time you received a letter from a witch.

I returned home tonight to hear the news about The Healthcare Commission’s conclusions regarding their investigations into the increased mortality relating to certain conditions in Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

It has been reported that 400 people have died needlessly.

How many near misses were there?

How much suffering?

How much long-term morbidity?

Doubtless the deaths will be the tip of the iceberg.

I have not read the full report but will do so.

However, a count for the words “leader(s)” or “leadership” showed that it occurred 42 times in the document.


These words occurred 56 times

It seems, therefore, that the opinion is that:

1. Leaders are important within the NHS
2. There is a lack of leadership within that organisation.

The first is true.

The second is false.

Leaders are scattered like gold dust throughout every NHS hospital and GP practice in every region in the UK. You can’t find them. You probably have not spoken to them. These leaders will not be seeking you out either. They avoid management courses if possible, they do not do the committee circuit if they can avoid it and they have no interest whatsoever in becoming one of the great and the good of the medical profession. They are not the ones who are presented to you when you visit a hospital. They will for example be at clinics, in laboratories, in operating theatres or in an endoscopy suite. They will not think your hospital visit is important because they have seen it all before. They will think the plants in the atrium brought in especially to impress you and the entourage of clowns following you is an affront if the hospital you are visiting does not have enough nurses or doctors, patients are not being fed at mealtimes, they are not receiving prescribed medications….. I could go on. They are quiet but determined leaders in their own patch. They do not “Lead Beyond Authority” and they do not “network.” Instead they build up excellent relationships within their own small teams as they interact with respected colleagues in other specialties.

This works.

And they work.

They are the hands on doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who lead by using their intelligence, knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and goodwill to prevent the NHS becoming a circus.

Keeping the show on the road without it turning into a circus can be an uphill struggle for them and from time to time the clowns roll in and undo everything that has been achieved.

It is then that patients die.

Then the leaders have to start all over again.

Any one of these leaders would be able to tell you what would work best in their patch, what is efficient, and what is a waste of money. Each patch is different. One rule does not fit all.

But nobody wants to know.

Until patients die.

Or more correctly, until it is widespread knowledge that patients have died.

I hope, Mr Brown, Mr Johnson, and Mr Bradshaw that you will see today as the turning point of the NHS and you will look around you for the glint of gold that is everywhere – the jobbing doctors and jobbing nurses would be a good place to start.

St Patrick’s Day 2009 might then become a date to remember.

Just as on St Patrick’s Day 2007 the junior doctors in the UK marched and made medical history.

I will write to you all again during the witching hour tomorrow night and provide you with some reading material.

Yours sincerely,

The Witch Doctor.

redapple.jpg a red apple ……………………

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page





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