Not another three letter acronym to describe a part of the NHS!
CCG, STP, ACS, I could go on... It seems that just as I have got my head around one three letter acronym to describe a part of the NHS it is replaced.
Some of the meetings that I attend must sound like a secret society to some people, with all the abbreviations and acronyms being used. At times it is like a foreign language, I have to pause and translate what is being said into English. There are several NHS jargon buster dictionaries (the Healthwatch website has one) to help people decipher what is being said.
With such confusing terminology the average person does not feel equipped to join in the discussion about changes within the health and social care systems. For meaningful dialogue and consultation to take place all parties need to be on the same page.
Meaningful conversations need to be free from jargon, sector specific acronyms and opaque abbreviations. Debate about the future must be transparent and accessible to all.
If commissioners and providers of services are striving to put the patients at the centre of care and aspiring to more community input, isn’t language a pivotal point?
Opportunities to encourage members of the public to get involved such as public engagement meetings, board meetings, governing body meetings, annual reports and performance reviews can leave those that work in the system having to reach for a jargon buster.
Even within the consulting room language can act as a barrier. There can be a natural power imbalance between patient and doctor.
Patients often don’t understand or retain what their GP is telling them.
GPs from Slough felt that there was a need to have a ‘Simple Words’ training programme for primary care clinicians to reduce the use of jargon and ‘NHS speak’ during patient consultations and improve the experience for both the doctor and patient.
The top seven misunderstood or difficult conversations were: sharing shocking or life-changing news; getting to the bottom of the story; explaining medical terms in Simple Words; agreeing the right treatment; conversations around medicines; changing health related behaviour; changing the way people use services.
Slough GPs found that once patients have a better understanding of their own health condition, and how they can manage this, the patient can take greater control of their condition within routine consultations. Understanding and clear communication is key in all spheres of life.
Healthwatch endeavors to produce all of our materials in a format that is accessible to all – our factsheets are digestible, our quarterly intelligence reports are no longer than two pages and always use infographics to depict visually our impact. When putting together our annual report we aimed for coffee table style rather than boardroom style, making it an easier read. So next time you don’t understand something within the health or care sector feel free to ask for it to be translated into simple words!