Dr Grumble



Dr Grumble once closed his blog. It still existed but only he could read it. The medical blogsphere was the poorer. He gives his reasons for closing the blog on the link below.


However, My Black Cat asked him if he would have no objection to her keeping some of his comments on a page beside her ar the top of The Witch Doctor Blog. She had grown quite attached to Dr Grumble and thought he talked a lot of sense.

He had no objection.

So, here it is. Something easily accessed, to ponder upon now and then.

The photographs and labelling are My Black Cat’s embellishments. The italics are Dr Grumbles.

Fortunately, Dr Grumble decided to open his blog again! But this page stays.



“I don’t know, Sam, whether the Grumble blog influenced anything but I am glad if it helped you understand how things are. Recently I found it frustrating to criticise CMO about his probably daft idea to fine hospitals for infections and then see David Cameron pick up CMO’s idea (as if it was his own). It was some time before either were challenged. The blog has really opened my eyes to how easy it is to spoon-feed lazy gullible journalists who don’t even pick up the phone to get a critique from anybody. And for that matter my eyes were opened to how lazy the politicians of all hues are in failing to think anything through beyond the initial soundbite. The trouble is that both major parties seem to have the same silly ideas. Now why is this? That is the key question that is connected with the one put to the Black Cat. Why does the government (as well as the opposition) talk down the NHS? As the Witch Doctor’s cat said it can only be to prepare the ground for the secret plan. How do I know there is a secret plan? I know only from the language they use. Words like plurality and contestability must be words intended to obfuscate. They surely have to mean privatisation or at least something similar.

Back to the question. Why is the government talking down the NHS? Why does it want to change an NHS that the public are happy with even if the government keep saying that they are not? And why do the Conservatives seem to have the same misguided ideas? Where could these ideas be coming from? I am not sure that the Black Cat has quite got there. You need to think who could possibly want to privatise the NHS. It isn’t the public. It isn’t the doctors or other NHS staff. So why can it be that politicians want it?



One of the cleverest things is to sell people things they don’t need and don’t even want. You can do this with the most amazing things. For example in this country we have wholesome running water everywhere. Years ago if you felt thirsty you got a drink from a tap. Now everywhere you look you see people swigging water from plastic bottles. They have even put a little teat on them so that Dr Grumble’s students take little sips in the middle of tutorials like babies with a bottle. This water costs more than petrol. People have the impression that they need to drink set amounts of this stuff (which is no cleaner than the liquid that comes out of a tap and in tests can be indistinguishable) to stay healthy. Dr Grumble has always known this to be essentially nonsense but the concept has only recently officially been debunked in the BMJ this Christmas. Where did our young people get this idea? Why do Dr Grumble’s children waste the money he gives them on extortionately expensive bottles of water, water that comes out of the Grumble tap for free? The answer is related to very clever manipulation of people’s thinking. Some years back there were several articles (not adverts) in the newspapers about how everybody needed to drink lots of water to keep healthy. Dr Grumble realised at the time that they were largely nonsense. Now how did those articles get there? He knows now because he has helped companies get articles on other topics into the papers. I did a post once predicting a spate of newspaper articles on a particular topic. That was because I knew that there was a company working on this. There’s a big industry out there doing this sort of thing.

So having told you that you can persuade people to think (as most people now seem to) that you need to sip water all day and pay for it more than you pay for petrol even though you can get it free from a tap, why do you think those in charge want to alter the NHS when patients are essentially rather happy with it and there are lobby groups in the US that seem to think it is the sort of system they should be aiming for? What one group can possibly benefit from privatisation? It isn’t easy to find the answer to this. Mrs Grumble is insistent that I do not tell you who is behind all of this because I have no evidence. The other problem you will find is that if you look for private companies behind this you may not find them. You may find a non-profit organisation and that will put you off your guard. It’s designed to. Some articles selling these new ideas have the word non-profit in the first sentence. It’s disingenuous. You need to stand back and think about where the profit is being made.

Take a look at this:



and keep an eye on the NHS Beacon sites.



(The Witch Doctor feels a blog coming on!)

Dr Grumble’s children are oblivious to what lies ahead. Medical students generally are. They worry only about their next set of exams. They naively think that all they have to do is qualify and then everything will be OK. The world we live in is tough. It always has been. It always will be. Some of the aims of MMC were a pipe dream. Expectations were raised that could never have been met and that has added to the problems. Dr Grumble’s father was a gynaecologist. It was not his first choice career. He had medical friends around the globe who left the UK because they could not get work. Yet at the same time our hospitals were full of foreign graduates. Little has changed. There have been good times but I myself struck a bad one.

By the way, Sam, I hardly knew what a blog was either. One day I just pressed the button to see how easy it was to create a blog and that is how Dr Grumble started. It’s not the right way to do it but I did not know then how it would get a life of its own – at least in my mind. As you have found it is not so difficult to blog. There are many out there with the same views as Dr Grumble. They too should tell the world where our health service is heading. I am not sure that British medical blogging is as vibrant as it should be given the crossroads that our health service is at. Part of the problem is that every senior doctor I speak to seems to think similarly but thinks that at the crossroads there is a no left turn sign and the road ahead is closed. In other words whatever we say will make no difference at all and we are going to have to turn right. Doctors have been neutered; nobody listens to them. Fortunately the public do not yet seem to have been taken in by the various blandishments.”


  1. Do you think the BBC have been reading the Wtich Doctor?


  2. Glory be, surely we are not importing the stuff from Fiji.

    It is not only the Grumble children that are afflicted. Witch child number three had horrible GI bug last week. Eventually managed to struggle out to corner shop but collapsed on bed on return. Reason for trip to corner shop? One shopping item only – bottled water.

    She feels a bit better now – due to the healing effect of the bottled water??!!!!

  3. I am running a kind of “series” over on my blog about the lack of any scientific case for glugging bottled water, Witch doctor. Three parts so far, part three just posted.

  4. […] Dr Grumble […]

  5. Boris and the London Leben blogger are following our lead.

    …. ich hasse Plastikflaschen und hab’ niemals in meinem Leben sogenanntes stilles Wasser gekauft.

    Nor has Dr Grumble.

  6. Don’t know much German, but get the message!

    Good for Boris! Wonder if he has been reading us?

    Trouble is, half the population will think these communal taps will be a cesspool of “evil germs” nowadays. If you follow the link, someone far away from London (Drumnadrochit) is concerned about catching “antibiotic resistant tuberculosis and other super bugs” from such communal drinking taps!

    A smattering of knowledge……

    Boris probably can’t win!

    He’ll need to do a pilot study first, or get Virgin to help market them to the risk averse!

    PS As a child, I was instructed to run the water on these taps for a while, drink it without putting your mouth on the metal spout and don’t use the metal cup if there is one! That advice has been proven to work beyond doubt since I’m still alive and kicking!

  7. The public are easy to frighten when it comes to infectious agents that they cannot see and do not understand. It’s a bit like radiation. I wonder what these people do in pubs or restaurants. You can sometimes see how the glasses are washed behind the bar and they get little more than a quick rinse.

    There are videos about what happens in hotels. Cleaning glasses with the same gloves apparently used to clean the lavatory frightens even Dr Grumble.


    In the circumstances it doesn’t seem logical to have any concern about a public running tap and a metal mug – but this is not much to do with logic.

  8. Welsh NHS has got the Grumble message.


  9. And there is now support from the BMJ:


  10. […] Dr Grumble […]

  11. […] Dr Grumble […]

  12. Why risk a prison sentence when you can get it free out of the tap?


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