Health literacy poetry

December 3, 2017

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
Don’t give me
pages and dense pages
“this leaflet aims to explain … ”
Don’t give me
really dodgy photocopying
Don’t give me
“drafted in collaboration with
a multi-disciplinary stakeholder partnership
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

This is tough enough
So please:
Make it relevant,
understandable –
or reasonably
at least.
Why not put in
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

Please reload

Recent Posts

December 3, 2017

Please reload

Follow Global Health Literacy Academy
  • Twitter Classic

Global Health Literacy Academy

Viengevej 100

8240 Risskov



T +45 9393 0533

 2018 by Global Health Literacy Academy

CVR 2862 2554 KvK64620085