Brighton hospital trust bosses plead for plain English

Posted On 07 Nov 2015 at 1:04 pm

Health chiefs have put in a plea for plain English at a board meeting of Brighton and Hove’s main hospital trust.

Board members have asked in the past for reports without jargon or initials known only to a few.

And members of the public have also made the case before for reports and presentations that are clear enough for everyone to understand.

Christine Farnish, a non-executive director of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, made the plea again this week.

Christine Farnish

Christine Farnish

She said: “What is unscheduled care? What are new care pathways?

“There’s too much jargon. How can we expect the public to understand what we’re talking about!

“I wish we could call a spade a spade and speak in plain English terms. It might make it easier for us to think more clearly.”

She was given a measure of sympathy from the trust board chairman Julian Lee who used understated humour to support her request.

Mr Lee, a lay member of the General Medical Council, Is the son of two doctors. He said: “I’ve lived with this all my life. My parents often talked in a way I couldn’t understand – although I suspect that may have been deliberate.”

Amanda Fadero, the deputy chief executive of the trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, said: “We need to think clearly about our audience – who we’re communicating with and what we’re communicating.”

At a previous meeting Mr Lee challenged his colleagues to say what one of the acronyms stood for. No one knew. A medical professor ended up using Google to find the answer.

A quick check of the latest board meeting papers suggests that they still have their work cut out despite improvements in the past few years.

The board reports contain a mixture of medical, financial, legal, management and bureaucratic jargon and have acronyms peppered throughout.

Often, baffling terms and initials are explained but there are enough times when they are not to prompt directors to call for clarity.

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