NHS Jargon part 3: How not to reassure patients when you’re being investigated for lots of deaths

Last week, the report into what went wrong at Mid Staffordshire Hospital, made for very bleak reading. It also emerged that five more hospitals were to be investigated amid concerns about a high number of deaths on their wards.

The hospitals now under investigation are ones which have reported a high ‘summary hospital-level mortality indicator’,  a government measure on hospital deaths. Of course, a high level doesn’t necessarily mean a hospital is doing something wrong – the local population could generally have poorer health than in a more affluent area, for example.

Now, given the level of publicity such an announcement is likely to make, you’d think the hospitals involved would be keen to put minds at ease with an easy-to-understand, reassuring message. You’d think. And in fairness, some were very, very straightforward. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, for example managed to put across a series of comments from senior health figures in the area in a way which was easy to take in – despite the odd reference to ‘outcomes for patients.’

Not so at Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester, which for several years had been nicknamed Shameside by patients fed up with the service they got.

Step forward chief executive Christine Green, with this bingo-card busting string of NHS jargon posted on the hospital’s website to reassure visitors:

Continue reading