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The Gary Test


Blog headlines

  • Risk stratifying elective care patients
    10 September 2020

    This blog has been shared by MBI healthcare technologies. As services are starting to treat routine patients those on waiting lists are making enquiries as to where they are on the list, and if they are still on the list.

  • Link of the week
    4 September 2020

    This week the link we would like to share are reflections from physiotherapy students on placement at Alzheimer Scotland https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/

  • Link of the week
    28 August 2020

    This week we would like to share a blog published on the Mind website about being a BAME health worker in the pandemic.

  • Remote clinical triage model
    20 August 2020

    This week we are sharing how a remote clinical triage model was implemented at Tollgate Medical Centre. This has been shared with us by Sarah Portway, a Nurse, and Clinical Services Manager at Tollgate Medical Centre.

  • Can the Community Pharmacy become the gateway to integrated care in the NHS?
    13 August 2020

    The NHS is a continually evolving innovative demand led public service the role of the Community Pharmacist is becoming the public face on a journey to the more responsible public engagement in the personal care of individuals and their family. There are currently over 11000 Pharmacies many are single or small chain service providers, while multiples occupy the urban shopping centres and more densely populated conurbations, the value of the rural High Street can’t be understated.

  • Crunch time for patient involvement
    7 August 2020

    There are new challenges for primary care, which could really do with patient input. Mike Etkind, chair of a PPG and founding member of his PCN’s patient group, recognises the size of the task clinical directors have managed over the last few months but identifies two particular issues where patients have a necessary and valuable contribution, that need to be addressed now – the 2020 vaccination programme and primary care from a distance- total triage, remote consultations, and the use of telemedicine.

  • Link of the week - Visionbridge
    31 July 2020

    The link we are sharing this week was submitted by Julian Jackson, Visionbridge.

  • Links of the week
    23 July 2020

    This week we are sharing two articles with you.

  • Link of the week
    21 July 2020

    The blog is from the perspective of the Company Chemist Association's Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison.

  • Link of the week
    9 July 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog from the NHS Confederation’s “NHS Reset” looking at the work of Healthwatch, the role of volunteers in supporting patients being discharged from hospital and the importance of the community.

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

  • Guest blog: Dr Karen Chumbley
    12 June 2020

    This week we have a guest blog submitted by Dr Karen Chumbley, clinical director and deputy chief executive at St Helena (https://www.sthelena.org.uk/)

  • Social care to become lifestyle brand
    16 April 2020

    Social care is to get a new brand identity as the government seeks to reverse the perception that it is the poor relation of the NHS.

  • Blithering Covid-19 bulletin plays vital role
    2 April 2020

    To fill a gap in the market for timely and relevant Covid-19 information, Martin Plackard, director of global crisis communications at NHS Blithering introduces his latest initiative to reach out to stakeholders during the outbreak.

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

  • Nothing left to shift: fears grow over NHS paradigm supply
    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The Gary Test

It was all going very well. Giles Wilmore from NHS England acknowledged that the NHS often failed to take people with it, tended to “do” engagement when it should be talking to people, didn’t involve them properly in decisions, got the language wrong.

“This should be about participation rather than engagement. The latter can sometimes feel quite passive rather than a conversation,” he said.

Giles is a former history teacher, he is also very tall - both potential qualifications for talking down to people.

But he wasn’t going to do that. Instead he showed some slides of NHS England’s new guidance. It doesn’t look much like the usual guidance; it contains useful stuff, short case studies, easy to follow advice.

David Colin-Thomé, the event’s chair, liked the new guidance. “I think it’s actually rather good, which is not something you’ll hear me say very often,” he admitted.

Don Redding from National Voices got to his feet to explain how his organisation had developed a new narrative to get away from the meaningless idea of “integration”. “Person-centred care” was something we could all sign up to, a way to agree what was really important to people, stick to the same story and check that we were doing the right things.

Robert Varnam from NHS Improving Quality talked about the commissioning cycle. Engagement should be part of everything we do, he said. Dr Varnam is a GP. He knows a thing or two about people. Not only that, he knows a thing or two about slides. No Powerpoint here. He was using Prezi. Powerpoint is the old world. Prezi is the smart presenter’s tool of choice, a helicopter for traversing a landscape we used to cross by bicycle.

It was all going very well indeed.

The venue was The King’s Fund in London and the event hosted by Primary Care Commissioning and NHS IQ was on the theme of “building public support for change”.

Time for some questions.

“My name’s Gary and I used to work in the construction industry…” began one of the delegates.

There was a moment of anxiety:  had he wandered in by accident, perhaps taken the “building” of the title literally?

No, Gary is a CCG lay member. “I genuinely do not understand what you are talking about – you are using words and phrases that seemingly go together but that mean nothing to me. Think about the language,” he said.

It was a bitter blow to those who had already thought about the language and thought they were speaking plainly.  The organisers had stripped all the usual ugly clutter from the agenda, banishing “engagement”, “collaboration”, “coproduction” and other disengaging claptrap.

The speakers were just as careful, stepping gingerly over NHS jargon, brushing aside acronyms and swatting buzzwords.

But Gary wasn’t happy. Later, some wag asked him how he felt after a presentation about Patient-reported Outcome Measures  and commissioning dashboards. Gary shook his head sadly without bothering to look up from his iPhone. Googling PROMs? Playing Angry Birds? Booking an early train home? We shall never know.

Despite losing Gary, it was an excellent event. Delegates used to stodgy, traditional NHS fare got plenty of mental protein without all the usual carbs and trans fats. Presentations were short. The speakers were good.

Brian Fisher of the NHS Alliance argued for investing in the social networks that have the best chance of changing the behaviours that lead to ill health, making his case with logic and evidence but without resorting to tiresome appeals for people to be more “caring”.

Marc Bush of Healthwatch warned about a partially engaged public, which is as dangerous as a partially exploded bomb. We are creating more opportunities for activism, he said, but if we’re not careful this will be manifest only as the power to complain, criticise and object, the kind of activism that stops things happening, not the kind that makes good things happen.

The conversation has started. The question is whether we can make ourselves understood, make it relevant, keep it interesting.

Never mind the Friends and Family Test. We need to pass the Gary Test.

Events editor: Julian Patterson

barry fitzgerald
barry fitzgerald says:
Sep 06, 2013 05:40 AM
Referring to the script for Star Wars, Harrison Ford said to George Lucas "George, you can type this s**t, but you sure as hell can't say it." That's nearly how I feel about NHS jargon. They can write this s**t but I sure as hell can't understand it.
Anonymous says:
Sep 06, 2013 07:11 AM
Every system needs a language. The NHS is complex, its delivery systems more so and sometimes complexity is necessary. Business intelligence measures are syntax for large data. The NHS fits the big data bill,let's not dumb down our need to be accounatble to the public by making out it's easy.
barry fitzgerald
barry fitzgerald says:
Sep 06, 2013 08:15 AM
Using language that's understandable is not dumbing down our need to be accountable to the public.
Garrett Turbett
Garrett Turbett says:
Sep 06, 2013 09:36 AM
While renovating (ok, overseeing the renovation!) of my house I often had to go to Builders Depot and other such stores. Unlike Homebase where things are advertised in layman's terms, these builder's stores are filled with isles of goods that perform God knows whaty task, and descriptions of items that are fairly meaningless to those outside the construction industry.

Should every industry be so simplified as to be understood by the average person on the street?
Laura Blott
Laura Blott says:
Sep 06, 2013 10:01 AM
Delegates used to stodgy, traditional NHS fare got plenty of mental protein without all the usual carbs and trans fats.
Laura Blott
Laura Blott says:
Sep 06, 2013 10:02 AM
These blogs raise a smile from me every week!
Anonymous says:
Sep 06, 2013 10:08 AM
After 7 years working in the NHS, I would quite like a language to be developed where I actually understand whats being said!
Anonymous says:
Sep 06, 2013 10:09 AM
Dont even get me started on Prezzi presentations.
Clive Spindley
Clive Spindley says:
Sep 06, 2013 11:16 AM
It's fair enough, there's just far far too much of it within the NHS (or maybe not enough of IT) ...
Richard Bramwell
Richard Bramwell says:
Sep 11, 2013 09:13 AM
By engaging the right people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference to its success - See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/[…]/newPPM_07.htm#sthash.dvPeM6Ks.dpuf
Maggie Whitlock
Maggie Whitlock says:
Sep 11, 2013 08:10 PM
Can someone tell me how 7 million pounds for A/E's will rescue them collapse due to this winter pressures on their service this winter?? (sorry about the post on here but can't find the way in to the soapbox)