Very rarely a piece of communication stops me in my tracks.
Today it was this tweet from NHS England, showing a sort of flow chart diagram to illustrate “Sustainable Improvement Team Impact Framework”.
We have developed an Impact Framework to capture the full value of #QI and transformational change programmes, moving beyond #measurementforimprovement to discover the true impact of improvement programmes. For more information: https://t.co/b05LuVV5X0 pic.twitter.com/QUf60HYnWF
— NHSEnglandSI (@NHSEnglandSI) May 4, 2018
Bear with me here.
I’ve looked at it again and again, but, like a Rubik’s cube, I cannot fathom it. I don’t even understand the title, let alone the rest of the chart.
“So what! You don’t work for the NHS, it’s not meant for you,” I hear its creator yell.
Maybe. But when the latest big healthcare buzz phrase is “patient-centred care” (is there, or should there be, any other sort?!), I can’t see any reference to a human in that diagram. The only mention of any sentient being is that dreadful word, “stakeholders”.
In a week when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed that up to 270 women in England may have died because they did not receive invitations to a final routine breast cancer screening, a diagram like this, which presumably is intended to boost(!) understanding, is doubly shocking and in my view epitomises what’s wrong with the NHS:
If this is how some NHS staff talk to one another, heaven help us.
If this is how some NHS press officers think they should talk to colleagues, heaven help us.
If this is how some NHS staff talk to you and me, heaven help us.
No-one should write or speak like this, but especially when they work for an organisation that has you, me and our friends and family at its heart.
What’s more, WE are paying for this.
But let me just state that my family’s experience of the NHS at the “sharp end” has largely been fantastic – caring and compassionate nurses, physios, doctors etc…
However, if NHS management in “back offices” up and down the country are coming up with this sort of stuff, I pity the frontline workers trying to make sense of it.
When a small piece of NHS communication is stuffed with words like theory/output/outcome measures/drivers/contribution analysis and unintended outcomes, it makes me queasy.
Actually, not queasy, angry.
But maybe that’s unreasonable.
So I asked a doctor, who had once worked in the NHS, to look at the flow chart and tell me what he thought of it. In his opinion,
“It’s typical nonsense, in a pretty diagram.”
But, in a further spirit of fairness, I thought I’d Google “Sustainable Improvement Team Impact Framework” to see if there was a clearer explanation of the flow chart. There it was again beneath this “gem” of a sub-heading:
“Beyond measurement for improvement to your impact story”.
What on earth is an “impact story”?
Now I was REALLY angry.
Under the diagram were the words, “The framework is based on eight underpinning principles”.
There, to my utter astonishment, at number 7 was this:
“Keep it simple and transparent”.
I have one underpinning principle of my own for NHS communicators, who come up with diagrams like the one I’ve highlighted: