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Health literacy poetry

Congratulation to NHS Scotland for their achievement in launching their new heath literacy action plan called Making it Easier. The opening poem says it all. Enjoy!

"This is bad enough So please … Don’t give me gobbledegook. Don’t give me pages and dense pages and “this leaflet aims to explain … ” Don’t give me really dodgy photocopying and “DO NOT REMOVE FOR REFERENCE ONLY.” Don’t give me “drafted in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary stakeholder partnership consultation short-life project working group.” I mean is this about you guys or me? This is hard enough So please: Don’t leave me oddly none the wiser or listening till my eyes are glazing over. Don’t leave me wondering what on earth that was about, feeling like it’s rude to ask or consenting to goodness knows what. Don’t leave me lost in another language adrift in bad translation. Don’t leave me chucking it in the bin. Don’t leave me leaving in the state I’m in. Don’t leave me feeling even more clueless than I did before any of this happened.

This is tough enough So please: Make it relevant, understandable – or reasonably readable at least. Why not put in pictures or sketches, or something to guide me through? I mean how hard can it be for the people who are steeped in this stuff to keep it up-to-date?

And you know what I’d appreciate? A little time to take it in a little time to show them at home a little time to ask “What’s that?” a little time to talk on the phone. So give us the clarity, right from the start the contacts, there at the end. Give us the info you know we need to know. Show us the facts, some figures And don’t forget our feelings. Because this is bad and hard and tough enough so please speak like a human make it better not worse"


Written by Elspeth Murray for the launch of the cancer information reference group of SCAN, the South East Scotland Cancer Network, 20 January 2006. Cited from Making it Easier, NHS Scotland, 2017

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