Posted by: Witch Doctor | June 27, 2011

The Modus Operandi of the Demi-Pied Piper’s Little Helper

Well, My Black Cat, everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a twist about discussing the amendments to The Health and Social Care Bill.

They say there is not enough time!

They say they didn’t really listen!

You say there is much to be learned from Professor David Kerr?

One of our readers accurately identified The Professor as The Demi-Pied Piper’s Little Helper.

You say what he did many years ago might be a useful tactic to use today, My Black Cat……..

Eh? The Witch Doctor has no idea what you are talking about!

Well, the Demi-Pied Piper is, of course, Alan Milburn.

The other half of the PP is Tony Blair.

They are all knitted and knotted together in Twingles and tangles.

It is interesting that New Labour’s Alan Milburn and life-long labour supporter Professor David Kerr are both now advising the present government – a government that does not call itself New Labour.

Professor Kerr is also a “Choice” enthusiast.

“He said that he hoped to push through the ideas of choice and the empowered patient, encouraging the NHS to make more high-quality information publicly available. “People need to be able to understand how their hospital is improving,” he said.”

But he doesn’t seem to like websites that don’t engage with the government’s “choice” agenda.

“On informed choice for patients, he said that under the Government “the whole big idea ended up in the foothills of dodgy websites. No one was really engaging with it.”

He was referring to the last government.

Dodgy websites!!!


My Black Cat, do you suppose it is possible Professor Kerr had been surfing around the medical blogosphere?

Wonder if he still does.

Wonder if he’s read this recent review of “The Choice Agenda.”

Anyway, My Black Cat, what is it that might be learned from Professor David Kerr?

This recent statement of Alan Milburn’s is relevant.

“The reforms I introduced as health secretary to create NHS foundation and primary care trusts started the devolution journey. GP consortiums were supposed to complete it.”

Professor Kerr, clearly supported Alan Milburn. He wrote a letter to all MPs many years ago when the Commons were divided on the foundation trust scheme.

“He was also one of the main drivers of the foundation trust scheme, offering the best hospitals the chance to become more independent, hold greater responsibility for their budgets and make clinicians more engaged in service improvement. A knife-edge Commons division on foundation status was won by 17 votes after Professor Kerr wrote to all MPs underlining the advantages that it would bring.”

In 2003, Alan Milburn referred to Professor Kerr in Hansard.

Dr Phyllis Starkey, the then MP for Milton Keynes, South West, referred to the fact that Professor Kerr “seems to write particularly good letters.”

I make no apology for quoting the much-cited Professor David Kerr, who seems to write particularly good letters. In a letter to me, he wrote: “Hitherto, the old monolithic NHS has been good at setting targets but failed completely to provide the means of achieving them. We cannot drive service improvement from the centre. Famously, Frank Dobson likened the NHS to an enormous oil tanker which took an age to turn around. Rather than let the oil tanker run aground, would it not be wiser to invest in a fleet of modern, manoeuvrable ships, which can function in a convoy without loss of individuality? As we develop national standards for cancer and other diseases, it has become crystal clear that we must support, not stifle, local initiative; that we must allow the freedom to reform; that we should raise standards so that all might benefit.”

So, My Black Cat, you are saying it is possible the Health and Social Care Reforms would never have got off the ground if Professor Kerr, a renowned cancer specialist, and staunch labour supporter, had not written to every MP giving his support for a key scheme initiating Alan Milburn’s long term plans for the NHS?

Cancer is such an emotive subject. Isn’t it, My Black Cat?

But taking all this into account, way back in 2003, the foundation trust scheme got through The House of Commons by a majority of only 17 votes!

Without Professor Kerr, where would Alan Milburn’s plan be now?

Where would the Health and Social Care Bill be now?

You will recollect too, My Black Cat, that Professor David Kerr was a member of The Future Form and sat on the subcommittee that produced this document:

Patient Involvement and Public Accountability A report from the NHS Future Forum

This is the document produced by The Future Forum that runs rings round us all by failing to clarify the role of the Secretary of State for Health.

The one where the term “duty to promote” appears to replace “duty to provide.”

But how might Professor David Kerr’s modus operandi all these years ago help now, My Black Cat?

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  1. Hi WD,

    This is all very interesting. There’s been a couple of things happening up here; a chap called Lewis Morrison has been going on about services being stretched and how we will have to centralise (shut hospitals) at the same time that Dr Chris Ham was going on about the same thing in London;

    I and some of my friends took him to task in the Herald’s letter columns, which you can read here
    but I think they were acting in tandem. Prof Kerr was the author of the Kerr report up here in Scotland, which called for hospitals to be shut. I think the Health and Social Care Bill is a roundabout way of doing this, just as the student fees fiasco is a roundabout way of shutting universities. If they leave the hospitals in the public sector they’ll not be able to do it. Deregulate and they can blame it on the GPs .

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