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Therese Coffey 'tells NHS staff to stop using Oxford comma'
New Health Secretary issues guidance telling staff of her 'working preferences'
Therese Coffey has told workers in the Department of Health and Social Care to stop using the Oxford comma in their communications, it has been claimed.
The Health Secretary reportedly issued guidance to staff to advise them on her working preferences after she was appointed to the role earlier this month.
The instructions, which the Financial Times said had been emailed to staff and published on the department’s intranet, also told workers to “be positive”.
The ban on the Oxford comma - a punctuation mark that some people place before the last item on a list - has sparked a backlash, with some health workers viewing the instruction as “patronising”.
The email to staff was sent last Thursday and also advised workers to steer clear of using “jargon”. The guidance was reportedly given the title of “new secretary of state ways of working preferences”.
The Financial Times said that the guidance had been sent to workers in Ms Coffey’s department but it had also been forwarded to staff at the UK Health Security Agency.
The guidance advised workers to “be positive - if we have done something good, let us say so and avoid double negatives”.
One official described the email as “super patronising” while another said the instruction on the use of Oxford commas would be seen by staff as “extremely patronising”.