John Paton is not alone in finding the titles of government initiatives 'cloying, sentimental, inane and downright meaningless', with their 'mania for the colon followed by the apple-pie and motherhood adjectives' (letters, 25 February). Unfortunately, this style is not limited to the covers of documents, but extends to the text too.
The final paragraph of The New NHS white paper claims: 'The end result will be an NHS that responds to a changed and changing world... An NHS that is accessible and responsive. An NHS which gets better every year. A modern and dependable NHS.'
Could the government be following the plain English guideline of keeping sentences short? Dispensing with verbs is certainly one way of doing it.
But if plain English is the aim, then how do you explain this sentence: 'The internal market's fragmentation between multiple fundholders and health authorities made it difficult to ensure properly co-ordinated commissioning arrangements for these very specialised services'? Perhaps they should rephrase it. How about: 'There were problems with the internal market. A fragmented market. A market with multiple fundholders. A market with health authorities. It was difficult to have good arrangements. Properly co-ordinated arrangements. Commissioning arrangements. Arrangements for very specialised services'?
Then we'd all know exactly what was meant - I don't think.