Dr Tom Jones: Raise your sights, loosen your tongues and resist NHS corporate-speak

Colleagues, there is a war to be fought. A conflict for the very heart and soul of the NHS.

Are you with me or against me?

I’m talking, not about the junior doctors versus  He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named, but about something far bigger than that.


More specifically the language of the boardroom.

Even more specifically; language like ‘granularity’, ‘deep dive’ and ‘I need to be sighted on that by close of play Thursday’.

Just when did it happen, colleagues? When did doctors start to talk like hollow-eyed-corporate-wage slaves instead of the professional descendants of the mighty scribes and wordsmiths of yore?

Can you imagine our ancestors;  fellow trained physicians like Anton Chekhov and Somerset Maugham uttering bon mots like ‘let’s haul it up the flagpole and see who salutes then’...

John Keats trained as a doctor.

As we embark upon the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, can you honestly imagine a man of his towering intellect and powers of expression urging you to pick the ‘low hanging ones’ at the beginning of a project? Sorry, not a project, a ‘task and finish’ session.

The trouble with mediocre language is that it breeds mediocre thinking, which in turn begets mediocrity.

The Health and Social Care Act of 2012 seems to have ambushed doctors into a maelstrom of this kind of mediocre boardroom-speak.

Colleagues, we should raise our sights, and loosen our tongues.

We should combat this tired, overused, and ultimately meaningless use of language whenever we encounter it.

No more ‘stakeholders’ no more ‘blue sky thinking’ no more ‘landing’ a project, however ‘robust’ it might be.

Let’s reclaim the beauty of the English language and the power of self expression.

To Be or Not To Be – that is the question

Not: ‘Need some granularity re question of own existence. By close of play Thursday pls.’

  • Dr Tom Jones (pictured) is vice chair of the GP Survival group and a partner near Manchester

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