Speaking at meetings is a quicker way of reporting work than writing articles. Unfortunately, as the number of medical meetings increases, the communications delivered become harder to understand. There are several reasons for this. Formerly the contents of papers often consisted of brief descriptions of clinical or pathological conditions, whereas today scientific papers may occupy an entire session. Greater care is then demanded from the speaker and sometimes more intelligence from his audience. Priority is given to research. Also, the trend towards specialisation — each speciality with its own jargon and terminology — creates problems in intercommunication. One sometimes wonders whether general meetings will not soon become impracticable. Nevertheless, none of these developments should prevent a communication being understood, provided that it is properly delivered. Sometimes in a meeting lasting many hours, one communication only may be conspicuous for its clarity and fine slides — its presentation so concise and easy that few appreciate the work that went into its construction.
This paper describes the work of the research and intelligence unit in Teesside Health Department, and illustrates the use of information in health-service planning. The validity of this more scientific approach to management is demonstrated. It is concluded that a research and information function should be developed as soon as possible, because of the need for the provision of data for decision-making in the early days of the reorganised N.H.S.