“This Is Bad Enough” by Elspeth Murray

“This is bad enough” was written by poet Elspeth Murray for the launch of the cancer information reference group of SCAN, the South East Scotland Cancer Network (January 20, 2006). Her poem is a plea for clarity in an increasingly complex health care system that too often relies on jargon rather than information and tools that truly aid decision making.

Click here for a link to a video of Elspeth Murray reading her poem.


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 multidisciplinary 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.

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