READ TO THE END FOR A FREE GIFT!!!
NHS Change DayLast year a single tweet (not by me I hasten to add!) sparked an idea that led to 189,000 people making personal pledges to change something in to improve the NHS for patients. This was the first NHS Change Day. March 3rd 2014 is the second NHS Change Day where the aim is for over half a million pledges. Before it's official launch on March 3rd we are already over half way to this target.
Being Open With Patients
This year, as well as supporting pledges made by others, mypersonal pledge is about improving the openness and transparency of the NHS. The NHS has a chequered track record on being open. The National Patient Safety Agency originally published guidance in 2005 on communicating effectively with patients when things go wrong, under a headline of Being Open. Since 2009 it has been it has been a key requirement of the NHS Litigation Authority, who provide insurance cover for all NHS Trusts, that they have well designed policies to help ensure they are open with patients and families when things go wrong (requirement 2.10 of the NHSLARisk Management Standards).
In April 2013 it became a contractual requirement for providers of NHS services to be open with patients and their families when they suffer serious harm through a contractual duty of candour (section SC35 in the StandardNHS Contract). It was a recommendation of Sir Robert Francis’s report on the public inquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust that there should be a statutory duty of candour. The government, in theirresponse, said they will pass laws to introduce this.
NHS Board Transparency
The Professional StandardsAuthority Standards for members of NHS boards and Clinical Commissioning Group governingbodies in England require that board members, and therefore boards, are open. It states:
“I will be open about the reasoning, reasons and processes underpinning my actions, transactions, communications, behaviours and decision-making and about any conflicts of interest”
In spite of all these guidance, requirements, contractual duties, standards and impending legislation, some parts of the NHS on some occasions are still not as open and transparent as we should be. I deliberately say ‘we’ because I take personal responsibility for the actions or inactions within my power to change where we are not open in the best interest of patients and public.
This is why my NHS Change Day pledge is to challenge any lack of, or perceived lack of, transparency or openness that I come across.
Using Open Language
Another significant way in which the NHS can be less than transparent to patients and the public is in the language that we use. During last night’s WeNursesTwitter Chat about ‘standardised languages’ part of the conversation turned to the jargon, abbreviations and acronyms that health professionals use on an all too frequent basis.
As a key part of my pledge, I aim to challenge others and reduce my own use of unexplained jargon, abbreviations and acronyms. One conclusion from last night’s chat was that the use of jargon can alienate people, engaging with people in a language they understand is essential to build rapport and ensure they are not disempowered. Nelson Mandela once said:
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
Sometimes not using complicated language can be difficult. If you want to see in practice how hard this can be; try using the Up Goer 5 tool to explain any every day concept, object or idea. It will only let you use the most often used ten hundred words. This idea came from a challenge to explain the Saturn V rocket in simple terms. An explanation of the story is here.
Finally, my gift to you…
Jargon, Abbreviations and Acronyms
In my time working in the NHS I have documented any abbreviation, jargon or acronym that I have come across. It may or may not be hard to believe, but my list now stands at more than 18,800! My gift to you is to give you access to this list so if you come across any jargon you may find it in my list. Please do tell me if there are any you know of that I’ve missed from my list and I’d be happy to update it. This link will take you to a PDF searchable version of this file (the link takes you to a file sharing site called FileSnack where you can download the abbreviations list without any need for sign-up or login; it’s 1.5MB in size)