Cut the jargon

Councillor Graham Cox speaks out against jargonThanks to Councillor Graham Cox of Brighton and Hove City Council for his 4 Feb blog post against jargon, entitled ‘Who writes this stuff?’

He highlighted the following passage in a committee paper:

In September 2013, the CCG Local Member Group approved the strategic proposal to develop an Integrated Diabetes Care model, which would deliver a seamless diabetes care pathway led by multidisciplinary teams delivering integrated, patient focused care, delivering national evidence-based and cost-effective standards to deliver improved outcomes.

‘This is probably worthy, but I’m not sure what it means and it must put people off,’ he wrote.

I agree. And in my job I see this kind of writing a lot, especially in the public sector. It’s partly because we are encouraged to write a certain way at school and college – a style that is generally more formal and jargon-friendly than the modern workplace needs or wants. Many people who can express their ideas very clearly and concisely in speech tie themselves up in knots when asked to commit them to paper.

It’s also workplace culture. Employees are terrified that their writing will lack the necessary gravitas if they use simpler words. ‘My clients/customers/managers are different from other readers,’ is a common objection. ‘They expect me to write like this.’

So thank you, Councillor Cox, for clarifying. I can use this in my training courses as evidence that even councillors breathe the same air that we do. They don’t have time for gobbledegook.

According to The Argus on 8 Feb, a spokesman for the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) reworked the offending paragraph as follows:

In September 2013, the clinical commissioning group’s Local Member Group; a group of GPs, nurses, managers and patients who represent the city’s GP practices, agreed to develop a new and improved diabetes service in the city.

This would be led by a team of health professionals, including doctors, nurses, dieticians, to make sure as patients move between services that those services share information, work together and feel joined up.

With these changes services in the city will be designed with the patients’ best interests at heart, will meet national standards, be the best value for money and improve the health of people living with diabetes in Brighton and Hove.

‘We hope that makes it a bit easier to understand,’ he said.

What do you think of jargon in the workplace? Do you prefer it? Do you think that your readers expect it?

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