Overuse of jargon is leaving councillor and public baffled
HEALTH bosses have been criticised for speaking in NHS jargon, leaving one councillor baffled and leading to papers which are impenetrable to members of the public.
Councillor Sarah Russell called for plain language from officials.
She said she has raised the same point the past four times she has sat on Leicester City Council’s Health and Wellbeing board.
She made the comments following a presentation about winter resilience by Mike Ryan, director of urgent and emergency care for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, at a recent meeting of the board.
“I’m sure this presentation works really well when you’re delivering it just to health colleagues,” the councillor said.
“But around this table we’ve got people from a range of organisations, members of the public and people from a lay perspective and most of that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you don’t speak NHS.
“You’re not the first person I seem to have made this point at the last four boards.
“People bring papers that work fine when you’re speaking with people who work in health or social care on a day-in-dayout basis, (but not to us)”.
Coun Russell went on to say that health bosses should be less technical when addressing the board, using less jargon and acronyms, and said: “I do think, as a board that sits in the public arena, papers should be accessible to all who read them.”
The presentation was designed to help councillors and board members understand the pressures that winter brings, look back on how local services coped last winter and talk about how they will handle extra pressures this year.
Coun Russell said the language and terminology used makes it difficult for the council to effectively scrutinise the local health service.
“I genuinely think, as much as this meets all the needs for all that’s going on and the winter planning, I’m not sure it meets the needs of the Health and Wellbeing board and our ability to appropriately challenge,” she said.
“I really can’t hold the hospi- tals trust or the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to account based on a presentation that is very, very difficult for non-NHS people to understand.
“I’m sure it works, I’m not criticising what’s actually happening, but we need to be able to engage with it.”
Sue Lock, managing director of Leicester City CCG, said: “It’s very easy for us to fall into the NHS way of speaking especially when winter plan is written in all that terminology, I take full responsibility for that.
“We still need to really challenge ourselves about it.”