Posted by: Witch Doctor | March 27, 2013

Indirect sanitisation and silencing of medical bloggers


Every now and then there is so much going on in the world that The Witch Doctor becomes catatonic. So does My Black Cat. Currently we are lost for words about many things but that does not mean we are also lost for thoughts. However, we need to break our silence for a moment.

The General Medical Council wise as ever, on 25 March 2013 produced a document that will come into effect on 22 April 2013. It has important and intrusive implications for freedom of speech among the medical profession and so My Black Cat insists that we regurgitate what we once said in this blog regarding the anonymity of medical bloggers. It was part of a conversation with Dr Grumble way back in 2008


“The Witch Doctor had no such qualms. Indeed she even uses Witch Speak to scramble her writing style. This is because, hidden away in many managerial filing cabinets in her corner of the world, are many letters written in her hand that might give the game away.

So, for The Witch Doctor, a Nom-de-Plume and Witch Speak it is.

And so it will remain.

This is what she said during her conversation with Dr Grumble:

“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 to 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”


And that is the way it will stay even after 22 April 2013, when, all being well, we will return to the blogosphere. We will remain Witch Doctor and My Black Cat.

Won’t we My Black Cat?


  1. well said the para 17 is a particularly nasty piece of work

  2. The government has always used the tactic of anonymous blogging: “reliable sources within Downing Street etc.” So we are just following 10 Downing St.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: