Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Communication and the NHS

Like many other GP practices we are soon going to be changing to a new computer records and appointment system. To help with that change the new suppliers  provided  us with an information leaflet to give to patients. It's very badly written.

The leaflet tells patents when the changes are going to occur. But rather than just saying that, it talks about a "cut over" period. When I complained to the new company about the jargon, the reply was that, 'everybody in the trade has used that expression for the last 9 years.' Sadly I think they failed to realise that the document was not written for those in the trade but for ordinary mortals like you and me. How often failure of communication is simply due to thoughtlessness. Misunderstandings abound in life and GPs especially need to be masters of succinct and clear communication. Failure to understand can lead to unnecessary anxiety or even more serious problems.

The leaflet also spoke of a 'Go Live' date and hoped the change would be 'undisruptive'. What's  wrong with hoping the change will not be disruptive?

Some years ago I taught a 'communication skills' course at the Royal Free Medical School. The students were not especially interested and I spent a lot of time urging them to realise that communication  is near the top of the list for most doctors in needed skills. I guess they are probably realising that now.
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