Not an­other three let­ter acro­nym to de­scribe a part of the NHS!

The Wokingham Paper - - HEALTH - with Ni­cola Strud­ley To browse through over 700 NHS acronyms go to http://con­tent.dig­i­tal.nhs.uk/ar­ti­cle/2994/Glos­saryof-acronyms

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!

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