Discover more from Where are the numbers? by Norman Fenton and Martin Neil
An update on my NHS conference cancellation
Cancellation is easier than we thought. One complaining tweet is enough.
This is another update to the story of how I got cancelled from the NHS Health and Care Analytics Conference 2023 (and remember: my planned talk had nothing to do with covid or vaccinations).
While the University of Birmingham did finally respond to my subject access request (as described here) the NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit say they need more time to provide the information (they are now long past the 20 days within which they should have provided it). When I reminded them of the delay they said:
We have received some records that we are reviewing but we have just enquired with the relevant people to make sure we have received all records applicable for the processing of this SAR.
Yet, interestingly, D Jackson submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking about the reasons for the cancellation and they have published their response to it here.
According to this, the cancellation was triggered by this single twitter message alerting the ‘conference team’ to my twitter account (note the timing - the email sent to me telling me I was cancelled was sent at 16:08 on the same day, just 35 minutes later):
Well, first of all, it is very simple to check who sent this redacted tweet since it is still public on twitter. Just in case it is deleted by the time I publish this, here is a screenshot of the tweet [UPDATE: within a couple of hours of this article being published the tweet was indeed deleted and now the whole account is ‘protected’!!!]
The ‘8 others’ tagged in the tweet were:
The FOI states (obviously [name] is yours truly):
The conference team were in a meeting at the time of receiving the above
and scrolled through [name]’s Twitter feed. It was felt comments made by
[name] on Twitter, conflicted with NHS values regarding vaccination, and
thus would not be in keeping with our values as an NHS organisation.
There was no further analysis, and the decision was made in the meeting to
cancel the session.
So, according to this narrative, in just 35 minutes between 15:33 on 20 June (when Jonti Peters posted the tweet) and 16:08 on the 20 June when I received the cancellation email:
the conference team just happened to be all meeting;
someone in the team saw the tweet;
they all looked through my twitter feed
they made their decision to cancel me;
they agreed on the wording of the cancellation email;
someone wrote the email and sent it to me.
That means that within a period of at most a few minutes unspecified comments made by me on twitter regarding vaccination were deemed by the conference committee to be ‘not in keeping with our values as an NHS organisation’. This is a slightly different reason for cancellation than that previously provided which was that my ‘presence would be a distraction’ at the conference. But it shows how little effort is required to cancel someone.
Disagree with NHS policy on one medication and you are unpersoned. That is totalitarianism.
Ironically yesterday I posted this thread on twitter about the total inefficiency of the NHS (in relation to patient care) and Martin posted his story of woe with them, but they are sure are efficient when it comes to cancelling dissenting voices.
Update: So within a couple of hours of this article being published the tweet by Jonti Peters was deleted. Moreover, he has now set the whole account to ‘protected’ but not before I managed to get a screenshot of the following very curious (“Digital Intelligence Unit”) tweet that a reader here alerted me to:
While the tweet directed to me has been deleted this tweet now returns this message:
Where are the numbers? by Norman Fenton and Martin Neil is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.