Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Speaking the Same Language

She nodded when I told her what haircut I wanted. It was a nice setting, I had time on holiday that has been all too rare since becoming a CCG Chair, and the fact that the hairdresser could speak only Spanish seemed of little concern. My Spanish vocabulary was limited to a basic knowledge of tapas.

They say there are only two weeks between a good haircut and a bad one. Mine isn’t a bad one, it’s just not the one I wanted, and I have a fortnight to remember the lesson regarding the importance of communication.

This month the NHS Confederation has published resources aimed at developing Health and Wellbeing Boards. The timing is perfect. As we move from the language of establishing Boards to the language of what we are actually going to do together, it is essential that we understand each other. The historic difference in approach between local authorities and GPs needs to be discussed, understood and embraced if joint working is to be successful and the sum is to be greater than the individual parts. We are agreeing plans that will last much longer than two weeks. We need clear outcomes and responsibilities. We can all understand the challenges posed by inequalities, obesity or dementia. We have to be clear about action and delivery. There is no point having a talking shop if we don’t speak the same language.

At the last meeting of the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board, there was a presentation from the County Council – an outline of their challenges, their responsibilities and the role they play in improving health outcomes. Speaking as a GP, it was invaluable. A language lesson.

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