Honestly, what I had in mind here was a considered take on the recently-landed ‘Next steps for integrating primary care: Fuller Stocktake report’. After all, it’s important, written by a very experienced GP and comes at a time when general practice is even rock-bottomier than usual.
But I can’t. I’ve tried, but I just can’t get past the document itself. I don’t want to be fatuous and superficial, I want to be analytical and incisive. That’s impossible, though, because for me it’s impenetrable, just like countless other previous reports I’ve read on much the same subject.
Consider these brilliant examples of meaning strangled by management-speak:
‘Systems have a role to play in articulating a clear plan for data sharing across the system to support the development of population health management approaches at neighbourhood and place level, enabled by a clear information governance framework and work closely with providers and patients to co-produce data sharing agreements where appropriate.’
And just when you’ve recovered from trying to dig the sense out of that, a few pages later, you’re hit with: ‘ICBs have an opportunity to establish a firm understanding of current spending distribution across primary care weighted by deprivation and other elements of the Core20PLUS5 approach, which can then inform discussions on how discretionary investment can be more purposefully directed to address health inequalities and form the basis of work to secure collective commitment from all system partners to this redistribution.’
By which point you may well have blacked out.
But there’s more. The document unashamedly wears the tropes of other recent portentous documents on primary care salvation. For example, we have the countless case studies of areas working ‘smarter’ and making all the rest of us feeling inadequate.
We also have the introduction of a new word to the bullshit bingo roster. This is a trend I picked up on years ago, spotting the previously unheard of ‘robust’ countless times in yet another document on how general practice should be saved. This time, it’s ‘pivot’s turn to shine. It appears five times – and, in case you’re interested, these are the things that are going to ‘pivot’: national policy, investment and support, strategy, top-down directives and leadership. Hope that’s clear.
Of course not: such words in the corporate craposaurus never shine a light on meaning – they just serve to confirm that, while documents like this are about us, they’re not really for us. And the net result is that something which emphasises the need for engagement, mentioning it ten times, achieves the exact opposite.
Look, collectively we’re suffering, and these documents just make us suffer more. In future, how about avoiding alienation and opacity by running them through a Plain English filter and providing solid ideas on a single page? You can draw your own conclusions from any reluctance. In the meantime, I will try pivoting more. Though I notice that when I do so I always seem to be facing ‘exit’.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs here