Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 25, 2013

Scary stuff? Seven is the witching number!


It is now seven years since The Witch Doctor first came across a certain name that was closely associated with the health care reforms attributed to Blair and Milburn. Indeed this person, as advisor to government, has been described as the architect of these reforms. It was also about the time that a private health care company, a European subsidiary of United HealthCare in the USA, had succeeded in taking over the running of an NHS general practice in Derby. It was the first time a large USA based healthcare organisation had been given UK tax-payers money for this purpose.

At an evening meeting on Thursday 12th January 2006 these reforms were described by the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland as “Scary Stuff.”

Since seven is The Witching Number it seems appropriate that the man who advised Blair and Milburn regarding their new (?scary) vision of the NHS has returned to the UK from the USA to replace Sir David Nicholson as Chief Executive of NHS England.

My Black Cat is tickled pink by this appointment. She is amused that some of those, who in the past have been so against the health care reforms, are now welcoming back the architect of these very reforms!

It is Creep at work, My Black Cat!

Human Creep.

Incidentally, this individual is Simon Stevens. Since 2004 he has been in the USA as a senior executive of United HealthCare. He made his mark there and seems to have been highly respected across the Atlantic for his abilities to enhance United HealthCare’s position in the international market.

“A spokesman for UNC commended Mr Stevens for his leadership over the company’s “truly significant entry into the international marketplace”.

Presumably he has come home to see through his concept that fuelled the Blair / Milburn reforms that were subsequently pushed through parliament by the current coalition government who ensured they attained legal status.

Mr Stevens seems to have sold some shares, presumably to avoid any accusations of conflict of interest.

“Although NHS England said Mr Stevens will “divest himself of any UnitedHealth Group shares before taking up his new NHS post in April, and will comply with all public service rules related to these matters,” a review of this agreement by NHS England chairman Sir Malcolm Grant will be made after Mr Stevens’s first year. Critics argue that this could pave the way for greater collaboration between the NHS and United HealthCare, which already runs some GP services in the UK.”

It is difficult to imagine that the “marketplace” and “consumerism” will not feature to a great extent in NHS England as a result of this appointment.

N.B. In addition to divesting his shares in United HealthCare, apparently Mr Stevens has taken a £20,000 voluntary cut in salary from that advertised (£211,000 per annum) for the first year.

Spare us this information.


It is in very bad taste!


  1. Dear Witchdoctor I received this email at the end of September and after some deliberation am forwarding this, to allow as many people as possible to sign a petition to stop pharmaceutical companies being allowed by law to conceal adverse event data on their drug for all time. I do hope that this is not an intrusion. Thank you. Susanna Rees

  2. Susannarees,

    Thank you for commenting.

    I can’t see the contents of the email you refer to, but these links are probably related to the petition.

    More here:

    Strangely enough, I am optimistic that in the long term, the internet will succeed in sorting out much of this kind of stuff and the world will eventually have genuinely transparent research. Not sure how many of the present drug companies will survive such transparency though.

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