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Let’s cut the crap, but keep the ideas coming

Let’s cut the crap, but keep the ideas coming

The prevalence of NHS jargon is acting as a barrier to change, says Healthcare Leader's editor Beth Kennedy
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At Healthcare Leader, we regularly come across terms that make us scratch our heads and wonder what they’re supposed to convey. You might expect that obscure clinical jargon is the source of our confusion, but we struggle far more with commissioning buzzwords.

And from speaking to delegates at recent Healthcare Leader Forums, it seems that we’re not the only ones running to keep up with the ever-expanding list of NHS jargon. 

If some of the biggest names in NHS leadership haven’t the foggiest, then what chance do the rest of us have?

Hence the Healthcare Leader Cut The Crap campaign. Please don’t misunderstand our reasons; we’re all for opening up discussions and promoting new and exciting ideas and change in healthcare. 

But to tell you the truth, it sometimes feels as though a lot of unnecessary pithy phrases are being dreamed up for new concepts or systems, and there are two situations where this is worrying.

The first is that those using some of the buzzwords seem to exist in an echo chamber. So while their closest colleagues may understand the latest obscure acronym, and indeed, have helped to come up with it, those on the front line are left struggling to understand what they mean.

And the second is that the leaders who use these buzzwords are struggling to define exactly what it is they want to convey, and seek to disguise this with snazzy new words.

Both scenarios, rather ironically, mean that NHS jargon exists as a barrier to change instead of helping it along, as it was presumably designed to do. After all, if the very people you expect to implement the ideas you describe are finding it difficult to understand what you mean, they will probably have a hard time realising your vision.

If we’re to implement the changes that the NHS so desperately needs, we need to make sure the language we use to communicate with one another is as clear and accessible as possible. 

After all, the system has enough problems to deal with without having to puzzle about the meaning of a term like MEAT.

So please, keep your innovative ideas coming. But instead of wasting your creativity on dreaming up a snappy buzzword or acronym, save your ingenuity for the idea itself.

What are your most troublesome NHS buzzwords? Join the conversation and share your examples by tweeting @HCLeaderNews with the hashtag #cutthecrap

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