Posted by: Witch Doctor | December 20, 2011

Eden is burning : Part 2


So, The House of Lords is beginning to get round to it at long last.


The message will get lost in the run up to Christmas.

The Commons should have sorted it out.

Why the devil do we elect MPs, My Black Cat?

The last post referred to the early medical bloggers and to Dr No’s recent post where he quotes Bob Dylan. Some my take it to mean that Dr No is about to join the other three bloggers i.e. vaporise.

My Black Cat is sure this is not the case, but time will tell.

“I don’t need your organisation……”

“I’ve moved your mountains and marked your cards…..”

She thinks Dr No is referring to the Health and Social Care Bill.

She wonders if he might be giving up on it……..

You may recollect the post in BadMed in March of this year drawing attention to the accountability of the Secretary of State for Health. If you don’t remember it, then read on……..

Not many were picking up on this key aspect of the HSCB at the time. Even My Black Cat missed it.

Once she read the post on Bad Med, The Witch Doctor thought it was important enough to do something that she has never done before.

In March this year The Witch Doctor began emailing every single MP of all parties including those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. She may have omitted a very few like the PM and the Secretary of State for Health. She can’t quite remember. If she did it would have been because she thought it was a waste of time or she didn’t want to alert them to know what she was up to (not that they would have cared much anyway, which is a pity because me and My Black Cat have an awful lot of experience of the foibles of the NHS, and furthermore we know full well where money and time are wasted. But above all, we know what is good about the NHS and how to make it better ).

Here is what she said in her email:

Dear (Name of individual MP)

I am a doctor and anonymous medical blogger. Like most members of the medical profession who are “jobbing doctors” and “jobbing academics”, I have grave concerns over the future of the NHS. I have grave concerns as a patient too.

Recently, one of my blogging colleagues, who is also a doctor, analysed the changes that had been made over the years in the sequential National Health Service Acts and compared them with the important change in wording of the Health and Social Care Bill that is currently going through parliament.

I would be grateful if you could read this blogger’s post, and consider the implications of the change in wording.


Could I also emphasise that all bloggers have their individual writing styles. This is simply the bloggers’ way of doing things in order to gain public attention about important matters and should not detract from the cumulative years of experience they have working in the NHS, often in senior positions.

Yours sincerely,

Decrepit Witch

You will notice she didn’t use her own name “Witch Doctor.” She signed herself anonymously as “Decrepit Witch.”

As you can imagine, most of the replies were automated. These or similar words were almost always included in the reply:

“Please note that there is a strict Parliamentary convention that MPs can only deal with letters raised by those from their own constituency.”

However, The Witch Doctor was not setting a precedent by writing to every MP. It seems someone much important than The Witch Doctor did the same thing in 2003.

His name was Professor David Kerr.

My Black Cat calls him The Demi-Pied Piper’s Little Helper. You would need to have read this blog for a long time to get the gist of who the Demi-Pied Piper is. Life is too short to explain it all again. However at the bottom of the page is what we said in June of this year.

Suffice it to say that The Witch Doctor was inspired by Professor David Kerr.

She used the same opus operandi.

The only difference was that she was a witch, so she probably DID set her own precedent.

It is doubtful if any MP has ever had ever before had an email from a doctor who is a witch and a decrepit one to boot!

I suppose it freaked some of them out.

Eh, My black Cat?

More later.

If I can be bothered………..



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

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page





© Dlundin |


  1. Another name to research : “Remember: the John Lewis NHS is an idea of Professor Julian Le Grand. Once he advised Tony. Now David has employed him to continue producing big ideas for the Big Society. ”

  2. Good for you, WD. This is precisely what the Royal Colleges should have been doing, but couldn’t organise themselves to do. And good for Dr No, who spotted it.

  3. […] so, The Witch Doctor and My Black Cat wish David Cameron, Andrew Lansley, and all the Members of Parliament that we contacted personally in 2011, a very Happy Healthy Christmas and New Year when it […]

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