If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Spamming for the NHS

This morning I received the following email:

Can I please ask you to sign this petition that has been started online - it takes a matter of seconds. It has rapidly gained over 30,000 signatures already. Please also circulate the link in any way you can.


John Corfield
(Please accept my apologies if I have duplicated this message to you or if I should not have used your email address this way.)
This came to my personal and permanent email address, and it's not one that I give out readily. I'd love to know where John Corfield got it from. Anyway, I replied, pointing out that the email was unwelcome, and that his pre-packaged apologies were not accepted. I was restrained in my language, but that may change.

I will be doing so at regular intervals until I get a reply. I will be writing to John Corfield at info@blackvanilla.org.uk, or possibly phoning him on 07986 066504, until I get an answer. He is an 'artist', making garden sculptures which, from the evidence of his website, seem to be made of lengths of drainpipe, cut'n'shut and painted blue.

I have also emailed the petition organiser chris.meachin@saveournhs.org to complain, and I will be pressing for a reply from him too. Spam is evil, but only when done by wicked capitalists. When it's sent by one of us, for a good reason, it's apparently fine.

I have also told him that his petition is dishonest (what they call 'cuts' should really be described as 'unaffordable increases that are slightly lower than before') and that I will sign it if and when he can show what he would cut instead, given that we have a trillion-plus debt burden that our grandchildren will be paying off when we are long gone.

Anyone else had one of these?


  1. I've not had one of these but I did get a questionnaire through the post on behalf of the NHS, asking me to complete it for for a survey about GP surgeries. None of the questions were relevant to me so I binned it. A few months later, I got another letter saying (this is a rough paraphrase): "We sent you a letter. You didn't answer. Do it now." It bordered on just the acceptable side of being rude, but the tone was definitely a tad bullying. I binned that too. I have now had six of these letters. And they talk about cutting waste out of the NHS...

  2. My wife got one of those questionnaires. The cover letter stated they had sent her a letter a few months ago, they hadn't, and the questionnaire will help the NHS target GP resources more effectively.

    Except it won't because she took one look at it and threw it on the fire. A demand for a smear test which included a 'we are covering our arse' leaflet highlight the myriad, and I do mean myriad, of way the NHS will cock up this test followed it into the flames the following day.

    Thankfully although I have 'my name down' with a the clown who is supposed to be 'my' GP I ignore all requests for the compulsory medical so it seems I am not worthy as even the medical request have stopped.
    Long may it remain so.

  3. I haven't had one yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting it now that I know how to deal with it :-)

    I had the same series of letters as Windsock, and felt similarly. I had decided not to answer the first questionnaire, as I felt the questions were unduly intrusive. So a curt reminder elicited a four letter response and a visit to the shredder.

  4. Since there's no sign of a data protection or privacy policy on their site, a complaint to the The Information Commissioner's Office would be in order.


    This "group of internet geeks in London" should be aware of the regulations, and also that any reputable organisation will provide an "unsuscribe" link on their page.

  5. Thanks Microdave. I have had a look at the ICO site, and it seems I have to go through more steps (such as complaining to the original spammer and getting no response) before I can complain to the ICO. I will hold this one up my sleeve until later.

    I haven't had a great experience with the ICO in the past, I have to say. I had a case against a mobile phone company which was a clear and obvious breach of the DPA, and they went through the motions but did nothing substantive.

    Still, we live in hope.

  6. I haven't had one of these emails yet, but I've seen a few Tweets from them in the last week or so.

    And like Patently & Windsock, I've been sent the GP one. I binned it too, and replied to the hectoring reminder. In spades.

    I havent had a third! ;)

  7. I can't wait to get my GP letter. I'm composing my reply right now ...

    I'm up to two words. Will I need more than that?

  8. Richard. As long as the first word is four letters long and begins with an F and ends with a K and the second word is OFF then no, nothing more is required.

    Or you could ignore and burn that's quite effective and satisfying.

  9. No, that would be rude and counterproductive. I was thinking more of 'Go Away'.

    Only kidding.

  10. Feeling rather left out, myself. Obviously the medical profession cares not a whit for my opinion.

    Perhaps I'll just stick to complaining about how completely toss installation art made out of angle-iron inevitably looks.


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