Patient Words in Prime Minister’s NHS Reform Speech

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Jun 07
Speech by David Cameron

David Cameron’s NHS Reform Speech

The Prime Minister’s speech at University College Hospital (UCH) today couldn’t be described as a rhetorical tour de force.

Yes, it had its moments:

We will not endanger universal coverage–we will make sure it remains a National Health Service.

We will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care–we will improve it.

We will not lose control of waiting times–we will ensure they are kept low.

We will not cut spending on the NHS–we will increase it.

And if you’re worried that we are going to sell-off the NHS and create some American-style private system–we will not.

We will ensure competition benefits patients.

These are my five guarantees.

Good repetition and listing techniques are now expected from a David Cameron speech.

But he did ooze confidence. And this subject–National Health Service (NHS) reforms–demanded that confidence. Being sure of yourself is one thing. Being sure of yourself when speaking to an audience of senior medical practitioners is another. Ask David Lansley if you doubt this.

His speech was notable for its use of colloquialism and plain speech. We had:

The details of the reforms we’re bringing may be on the table


I mean a genuine level playing field.

and, from the TV screens,

And that’s not all.


I get that concern. I understand it.

That last one, of course, had to be explained for the non-cool in the audience. “Getting” something is also a favourite of the Labour Party Leader, Ed Miliband.

It’s true that we did get our fair share of: diverse, deliver, delivering, working together and transparency. These words are believed to be essential for any government speech. In truth,  they are not. They are now just jargon.

In his public speaking the Prime Minister is at pains to sound like a normal ordinary speaker. A plain bloke.

We all know about his silver-spooned upbringing. He doesn’t hide it. But unlike patrician ministers of an earlier age, his plummy vowels are combined with a more down to earth choice of words.

It’s a public speaking technique that works. Keep your words and your language simple.

Yes, Please

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+