Overuse of jargon is leav­ing coun­cil­lor and pub­lic baf­fled

Hinckley Times - - LETTERS - AMY OR­TON hinck­ley­times@reach­plc.com

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.”

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