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At the Mind Your Language! event last month, Michael Wolff spoke briefly about the word ‘patients’ and the tendency for hospital staff to refer to people by the name of their condition, and to their colleagues simply by their job title.
What has happened to the art of using names? And where is the rationale in using such impersonal language in an environment where sensitivity should be top of the agenda?
As much as a privately run practice must sell itself, public sector institutions are not immune to the influence their clients’ perceptions will have on their success. Furthermore, issues of dignity, human rights and political correctness have already been discussed surrounding the use of language in medical contexts so it’s crucial that communications in the healthcare sector are sensitive and professional.
Like many others, we would like to see the word ‘patients’ disappear off the face of NHS communications for good, and for people to be spoken to and discussed in a manner that reflects the sensitivity and discretion that they value so highly.
The public sector has a true communications challenge ahead of it and the most simple changes will go a long way in improving the public’s perception of its services.