Lovers of plain English would have delighted in being a fly on the wall last week. Sitting in a Church office in Kensington, three of us from the local LINk were sitting disecting the latest QA (Quality Assessment) Reports from our local hospitals. Faced with a jungle of NHS-speak, we suddenly realised we had the power to fling these back and ask for them to be written in plain English -so we did. On the way we also mentioned that, try as we would, we hadn’t been able to find explanations for increase/decrease in use of mixed wards, and other subjects dear to patients’ hearts.
This gave us a wonderful feeling of power – which was increased when all three hospitals sent back a message thanking us for our participation! But it remains to see if they have got the message when QAs come out next year.
One of our group made a list of some of the more weird words in the QAs, which included:
“cohort” – the scholars amongst us thought these were Roman soldiers
“symbiotic monitoring system” “synbiotix database” – we spent some time trying to work out if it were the same – then gave up.
“clinical champion” – this is awful NHS-speak that thinks if you give someone a nice name that will make them feel better
We are still puzzling over the meaning of “the prevention of VTE is a national target and is a national CQUIN” “.
and/ “planned protocolised care pathways for example using the enhanced recovery programme methods”. Er – what?
So it went on. And these QAs are supposed to be to help the public understand how their local hospital has performed – or not, as the case might be. But who will know, or understand? Or are these learned paragraphs designed to fudge the issues so we can’t understand? Or show off the fact that someone studied Latin at school?
N.B. watch out if you ever see STAR-PUs on your notes. Apparently it means
‘Specific therapeutic group age-sex prescribing units’.
Can’t wait to have that come up at a meeting, and ask all the PPs (pompous professors) the meaning of this phrase!
I asked to hear more explanations about NHS-speak, and back came this reply from a very senior person. Unlike the NHS, I do mean it when I say something – so have protected their anonymity :
My personal horrors are “people we serve” which generally means the opposite.
“Challenging” is another which just means “more difficult”. “Mission statements” concept and content – should be banned in my view.
In fact, the more one thinks of words the more there is a general rule that the meaning in the NHS is the opposite of the real world e.g. “consultation” “involvement” “choice” and of course “complaints”
And in my view, they are spot on!
(Extracted from ‘Why can’t the NHS speak plain English?’)