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This is a glossary of terms, abbreviations, acronyms and jargon I have come across in my work on health and wellbeing (so health, social care, local government and occasionally a little wider). I put it together for my own use, but if it is helpful for others, that would be great (but of course no guarantees of accuracy, no liability etc. etc. This is my understanding, but it has not been checked by lawyers, specialists etc. so you are advised not to rely on it. It may, however, provide a starting point for further checking or advice.).

My aim is to provide an explanation and link (rather than just what an abbreviation stands for) but I haven’t been able to provide that for all entries yet.

If you have any corrections or additions, do please feel free to suggest them in the comments box at the bottom of the page.

It’s in alphabetical order and all on one page.
There is a list of other glossaries at the bottom of the page.


5YFV – Five Year Forward View. Published on 23rd October 2014 this is a strategic plan for the NHS in England produced by the main national health bodies, generally seen as led by Simon Stevens of NHS England.


A&E – Accident and Emergency

A&T units – assessment and treatment units (for people with learning disabilities)

ABPI – Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

ABPM – ambulatory blood pressure monitor(ing)

ABV – Alcohol by volume

Abx – antibiotics

Accountable Care Organisations – bodies taking responsibility for all health needs in a local area (an idea being imported from the US)

ACD – advance choice documents

ACE – adverse childhood experiences

ACEVO – Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

ACG – Adjusted Clinical Groups. A trademark registered risk assessment system from Johns Hopkins:

ACMD – Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs

ACO – Accountable Care Organisation. Providers coming together ‘to take responsibility for the cost and quality of care for a defined population within an agreed budget’ (King’s Fund). The phrase comes from the United States and is being used for a single contract for a range of provision (acute, community health etc.) as opposed to an ‘accountable care system’ (now ‘integrated care system’) which is about separate organisations working voluntarily together.

ACP – Advanced care planning

ACPO – Association of Chief Police Officers

ACR – Urine albumin to creatinine ratio.

ACS – Accountable Care System. See also ACO and ICS. Local health (and possibly local government) organisations (including commissioners and providers) coming together voluntarily to better integrate services, practically and financially (rather than acting in competition with each other).

ACS – Ambulatory Care Sensitive.
Nuffield Trust report on ACS admissions to hospital:

ACS – Acute coronary syndrome.

Acute, e.g. acute services, hospital or trust. Short term, coming quickly to crisis, such as A&E, surgery, maternity, radiotherapy. Usually provided in bigger hospitals.

ADASS – Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

ADLs – Activities of daily living

Admitted patients – inpatients, i.e. admitted to hospital

AE – Adverse event

AEC – ambulatory emergency care

AED – automated external defribrillator

AED – anti-epileptic drugs

Aetiology – the study of the causes or origins particularly of diseases or disorders

AGPs – Aerosol generating procedures

AHP – Allied health professional (e.g. paramedics, occupational therapists, physiotherapists)

AHSC – Academic Health Science Centres

AHSN – Academic Health Science Networks
23/5/13 15 new AHSN’s announced:

Akathisia – an unpleasant sense of restlessness and agitation which can be a symptom of mental health problems.

AKI – Acute Kidney Injury

ALB – Arms length body (i.e. at ‘arm’s length’ from the Government)

ALMO – Arms length management organisation. Housing organisations at ‘arms length’ from the local council.

ALS – Advanced life support

AMD – Age related Macular Degeneration. (A disease of the eye typically affecting older people. It comes in ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ forms, the ‘wet’ form being more serious).

AMHP – Approved mental health professional

AMI – Acute Myocardial Infarction (heart attack).

AMR – Antimicrobial Resistance

AMRC (or AoMRC) – Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

AMT – abbreviated mental test. A 10 item scale to screen for cognitive impairments. A score of less than 8 is usually thought to indicate a problem.
Academic article on various cognitive tests:

Details of the test and some of its limitations: (I particularly like the observation that language barriers may impact on the score, “However, this does not give them a score of 0: being French is not a cause of delirium”).

AMU – Acute Medical Units, (where emergency cases are admitted to hospital. Also called Clinical decision units, medical / surgical admission units or Observation Units.)

ANP – Advanced Nurse Practitioner

APC – Adult Protection Co-ordinator

APMS – Alternative Provider of Medical Services. A way of contracting with non-NHS providers for primary care (GPs).

APMS – Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

APP – Advanced paramedic practitioner

APPG – All Party Parliamentary Group

AQMA – Air Quality Management Areas

AQP – Any Qualified Provider

ARRS – Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme. Centrally funded, roles, in addition to GPs, in Primary Care Networks (PCNs), such as clinical pharmacists, first contact physiotherapists and social prescribers.

ARSAC – Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee

ART – Assisted reproductive technology

ASA – a physical status classification system devised by the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 1941. It gives an indication of the patient’s health conditions and the resulting level of risk in a forthcoming operation.

ASA – Advertising Standards Authority

ASA – Amateur Swimming Association

ASC – Adult Social Care

ASCOF – Adult social care outcomes framework
The indicators for 2014-15:
Outcomes data:

ASCOT – Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit

ASD – Autism spectrum disorders

ASH – Action on Smoking and Health

ASI – Appointment slot issue. “Outpatient referrals are typically classed as having an “appointment slot issue” when no booking slot is available within a timeframe specified by the provider, under the NHS e-referral system.” Source: (£)

ASMR – Aged-standardised mortality rate

ASU – Acute Stroke Unit

ASU – Acute Surgical Unit

ASYE – Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (part of training for children’s social workers)

AT – Area Team of NHS England. Also sometimes abbreviated to LAT, local area team.

AT – Assistive technology

ATL – Association of Teachers and Lecturers

ATU – Assessment and Treatment Unit

AUR – Appliance use review (a pharmacy service)

AVPU – A way of assessing a patient’s level of consciousness, standing for ‘alert, verbal, pain, unresponsive’.

AWOL – Absent without leave (e.g. mental health inpatients absconding)


BAC – Blood alcohol content

BACD – British Academy of Childhood Disability

BAME – Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic

BAPIO – British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

BASW – The British Association of Social Workers

BAU – Business as usual

BCF – Better Care Fund

BCT – Behaviour change technique

BIA – Best interest assessor. A role in the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) process.

BIBA – brought in by ambulance

BIT – Behavioural Insights Team. A social purpose company, spun out from Government (No.10 Downing Street), applying behavioural insights in support of social purpose goals.

Blinded – as well as the normal meaning in terms of losing sight, this term is also refers to people conducting research not being aware of which ‘intervention’ (e.g. a drug or psychological therapy) they are administering, so as not to sub-consciously (or even consciously) influence the results. However, it can be a bit alarming when you see phrases such as ‘we will have a blinded research assistant to assess fidelity.’

Blues and twos – emergency vehicles (e.g. ambulances and fire engines), referring to the blue lights and two tone sirens.

BMA – British Medical Association

BME / BAME – Black and minority ethnic groups

BMI – Body mass index. For an adult this is the weight in kilograms divided by the heigh in metres squared.
BMI calculator:

BMJ – British Medical Journal

BNF – British National Formulary. (List of medicines and guidance on prescribing).

BPPC – Better Payment Practice Code. Target for the proportion of invoices to be paid within 30 days of receipt.

BPS – British Psychological Society

BPSD – behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia

BPT – Best practice tariff

BRAN – an acronym to help remember questions to consider when patients and clinicians make shared decisions. It stands for: Benefits, Risks, Alternatives and doing Nothing.

BSG – British Society of Gastroenterology

BSL – British Sign Language


Ca – Cancer

CA – Combined authority. Created as part of devolution deals, such as Greater Manchester.

CAB – Citizens Advice Bureau

CAD – coronary artery disease

CAF – Charities Aid Foundation

CAF – Common assessment framework

CAFCASS – Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. It represents children in family court cases and is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities. It was set up in 2001 under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act. It is a non-departmental public body accountable to the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice.

Caldicott – report / guardians. Dame Fiona Caldicott produced a report in 1997 on the confidentiality of patient information. The ‘Caldicott Report’ also gave rise to ‘Caldicott Guardians’ whose responsibility is to ensure patient data is kept secure. She produced another report on Information Governance in the Health and Care system in April 2013:
The Government produced their response in September 2013:
Dame Fiona Caldicott sadly died on Monday 15th February 2021.

CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

CAP – Committee of Advertising Practice

CAP – Community-acquired pneumonia

CAP – Chest Abdomen Pelvis, e.g. in the context of CT CAP – a CT scan of that area.

Capitation – paying care providers to meet all or most of the care needs of a specific population.

CASSR – Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities (social services are now generally known as ‘social care’)

Cat scan – computerised axial tomography scan. See CT scan

Caudal / Caudal anaesthesia / Caudal block. ‘Caudal’ means relating to the tail, or tail end of the body. It is also used as an abbreviation for caudal block or caudal anaesthesia which is “…injection of a local anesthetic into the caudal canal, the sacral portion of the spinal canal.” Source:

CBA – Controlled before and after study

CBA – Cost benefit analysis. An study of the relative costs and benefits in money terms from an intervention or programme. (See also CEA and CUA)

CBM – Cognitive bias modification

CBT – Cognitive behavioural therapy

Committee on Climate Change. An independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. It advises the government on emissions and preparing for climate change.

CCE – Consumer and community engagement

CCG – Clinical Commissioning Group

CCG OIS – Clinical Commissioning Group Outcome Indicator Set

CCOT – Critical Care Outreach Team
2018 review by NICE, including background information on them:

CCP – Co-operation and Competition Panel, now part of Monitor.

CCPS – Certificate of current professional status. Required by doctors to work overseas.

CCT – Compulsory competitive tendering. (Largely introduced in the 1980’s in local government, forcing councils to invite outside organisations to bid to run specified services).

CDF – Cancer Drugs Fund

C-diff – Clostridium difficile

CDOP – Child Death Overview Panels

CDs – Controlled Drugs

CDU – Clinical decision units. Wards where emergency cases are admitted to hospital and kept for observation, also called Acute Medical Units or medical / surgical admission units or observation units.

CEA – Cost-effectiveness analysis. An assessment of the number of life years added by an intervention (see also CBA and CUA)

CEM – College of Emergency Medicine

CEP – Capped Expenditure Process. A process for containing spending in particular parts of the country facing difficulties. It applies to whole systems (including both commissioners and providers) rather than individual organisations. It was introduced in April 2017 in a letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement to local health care leaders.
See an explanation from the King’s Fund here:

CES – Care Episodes Service

CES – Community enhanced service. Services which go beyond what NHS England has commissioned, usually in a community setting, such as GP services beyond the scope of the normal contract.

CFS – Chronic fatigue syndrome (also called ME – Myalgic encephalopathy)

CfWI – Centre for Workforce Intelligence

CH – care home

CHC – Community Health Councils. Patient representative bodies between 1974 and 2002.

CHC – Continuing healthcare

CHD – Coronary heart disease

CHIS – Child Health Information Services

CHO – carbohydrates

CHRE – Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (now the Professional Standards Authority, PSA)

CI – Chief Investigator (e.g. in clinical research)

CIC – Community interest company. (Many Healthwatch’s are set up as CIC, to fulfil the statutory requirements to be social enterprises).

CIEH – Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

CIL – Community Infrastructure Levy. This is a charge that local authorities can raise on new development in the area, to pay for infrastructure that the development produces the need for (such as schools, health facilities or play areas).

CIP – Cost Improvement Programmes

CIPFA – Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (pronounced ‘sipfa’)

CJS – Criminal justice system

CKD – Chronic Kidney Disease

CM – Case Management

CMA – Competition and Markets Authority. It took over many of the functions of the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading. It aims to promote competition and help make markets work effectively, including such things as investigating mergers, investigating anti-competitive agreements and enforcing consumer protection legislation.

CMD – Common mental disorders

CMHT – Community Mental Health Team

CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist

COCP – Combined oral contraceptive pill

CoD – cause of death

COE – Care of elderly

COE – Centre of excellence

COE – Church of England

COI – Conflict of interest

COI – Central Office of Information. Former central government agency providing publicity and information

COMARE – Committee On Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment

Constitution – see NHS Constitution

COPD – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

COPI – Control of Patient Information. The “Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002” (UK Statutory Instrument 1438, 2002) makes provision for sharing patient information. COPI notices were issued during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing for greater sharing.

COPM – Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. (A measure designed for use by occupational therapists to assess changes in outcomes in self-care, productivity and leisure).

CP – Child protection

CP – Cerebral palsy

CP – Chest pain

CP – constrictive pericarditis (long term inflammation of the pericardium, the sac-like membrane surrounding the heart).

CPA – care programme approach. NHS Choices says, “The Care Programme Approach (CPA) is a way that services are assessed, planned, co-ordinated and reviewed for someone with mental health problems or a range of related complex needs.” Rethink Mental Illness says this means you get a care co-ordinator, a care plan and joint agreement on how many services should support you.
Fact sheet from Rethink Mental Illness (pdf, 8pp, 663kb)

CPA – ‘Comprehensive performance assessment’ (an inspection regime for local authorities used in the 2000’s).

CPAG – Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (supports NHS England)

CPAP – “Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a form of positive airway pressure ventilator, which applies mild air pressure on a continuous basis to keep the airways continuously open in people who are not able to breathe spontaneously on their own.” (

CPOC – Centre for Perioperative Care

CPD – Continuing professional development

CPN – Community psychiatric nurse

CPN – Contract performance notice.

CPRD – Clinical Practice Research Datalink. A part of the Department of Health and Social Care that collects de-identified patient data from GPs and elsewhere and licenses it for use by others including researchers.

CPS – Crown Prosecution Service

CQC – Care Quality Commission

CQRS – Calculating Quality and Reporting Service. “The Calculating Quality Reporting Service (CQRS) is an approvals, reporting and payments calculation system for GP practices. It helps practices to track, monitor and declare achievement for the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), Direct Enhanced Services (DES) and Vaccination and Immunisation (V&I) programmes.”

CQUIN – Commissioning for Quality and Innovation. A proportion of the payment by commissioners to providers linked to the achievement of specific quality improvement goals.

CRB – Criminal Records Bureau. Generally used to mean a formal check of criminal records to ensure a person was safe to work with vulnerable people. Now DBS, Disclosure and Barring Service.

CRG – Clinical Reference Group

CRP tests – C-reactive protein tests. Can help differentiate between a viral and a bacterial infection.
(See Cochrane review on their use to see whether antibiotics are needed for acute respiratory infections:

CRT – Crisis Resolution Team. (For mental health)

CRUK – Cancer Research UK

CSE – Child sexual exploitation

CSEW – Crime survey for England and Wales

CSF – Critical success factors

CSU – Commissioning Support Unit.

CT CAP – CT (computerised tomography) Scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis

CT Scan – computerised tomography scan. An x-ray scan from a number of different positions allowing a computer to make a 3-d image.

CT CAP – CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis

CTA – Call to Action
Document published in March 2014 to encourage thinking on the future of the NHS:

CTAP – Computed Tomography During Arterial Portography

CTIMPS – Clinical Trials of Investigational Medicinal Products

CTO – Community treatment order

CTPO – Computed tomography pulmonary angiogram (used to diagnose pulmonary embolism)

CTR – Care and treatment reviews. Reviews of people with learning disabilities and/or autism to ensure they are getting the right care in the right place.

CTS – Council tax support. Replaced Council Tax Benefit from 2013.

CTSI – Chartered Trading Standards Institute

CTU – Clinical Trials Unit

CUA – cost-utility analysis. An assessment of the number of quality adjusted life years added by an intervention or programme (see also CBA and CEA)

CVD – Cardiovascular disease

CXR – Chest x-ray


DALY – Disability Adjusted Life Years

DASI – Duke Activity Status Index. A self-administered questionnaire on ability to perform common activities, that correlates with peak oxygen uptake.

DBS – Directly bookable services

DBS – Disclosure and barring service (which took over from the CRB)

DCLG – Department of Communities and Local Government. Renamed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government after the January 2018 reshuffle. Changed to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in September 2021.

DCP – Division of Clinical Psychology (of the British Psychological Society).

DCR – Drug consumption rooms. Also known as overdose prevention places. Safe spaces for those with drug dependency, with sterile equipment and access to treatment and social support.

DDRB – Doctors and Dentists’ Review Body on renumeration

Debridement – the removal of dead or infected tissue from a wound.

Deaneries – regional bodies previously responsible for certain medical training. Replaced in April 2013 by Local Education and Training Boards.

DES – directed enhanced service. (Additional services by GPs required by NHS England for which a payment is made)

DfE – Department for Education

DFG – Disabled Facilities Grant

DGH – District General Hospital

DH – Department of Health (sometimes abbreviated to DoH). In the January 2018 reshuffle, it was renamed the Department of Health and Social Care.

DHP – discretionary housing payments

DHSC – Department of Health and Social Care. Renamed in the January 2018 reshuffle. Previously the Department of Health.

Direct payments – payments from local authorities for social care, for social care users or carers to purchase care directly. (See also personal budgets and Individual support funds)

DLA – Disability Living Allowance (replaced by PIP, April 2013)

DLAF – Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship Scheme (see also PLAF, the pre-doctoral scheme)

DLUHC – Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Renamed from the previous Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

DM – Diabetes Mellitus

DMC – Data Monitoring Committee. An independent group of experts monitoring patient safety in a clinical trial.

DMEC – Data Monitoring and Ethics Committee (in relation to university research. See also DMC)

DMI – Digital Maturity Index. The National Information Board produced the index to enable individual health providers and health and care economies to track their progress in digitisation of health records.

DMIC – Data Management Information Centres

DMS – data management system

DN – District Nurse

DNA – Did not attend

DNA – Deoxyribonucleic acid. A molecule that encodes genetic instructions.

DNA CPR – Do not attempt cardio-pulmonary resuscitation

DOAC – Direct oral anticoagulants

dob – date of birth

DOLS – Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

DPH – Director of Public Health. (The plural is usually written as DsPH)

DQMI – Data Quality Maturity Index

DSR – Directly Standardised Rate. The translation of raw numbers into a standard allowing comparisons between different areas. It could be rates of deaths, hospital admissions etc. The simplest rate would be number of events per 100,000 population. More sophisticated rates might take account of differences between the two populations.
Explanation from NHS Scotland:
See also “Technical Briefing 3: Commonly used public health statistics and their confidence intervals”

DSM – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The American Psychiatric Association’s dictionary of mental disorders.
An article giving some of the arguments, prior to the publication of ‘DSM-5’:

D2A – discharge to assess, or the ‘home first’ model. This suggests patients should discharged from hospital as soon as possible, with an assessment of their care needs made at home.

DTOC – Delayed transfer of care

DV – Domestic violence

DVT – Deep vein thrombosis

DWP – Department for Work and Pensions


EAL – English as an additional language

EBITDA – Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (e.g. used in the Five Year Forward View)

ED – Emergency Department

EDC – Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (they affect hormones)

EDD – Estimated date of delivery (of baby, i.e. of birth).

EDI – Equality, diversity and inclusion

EDL – Electronic discharge letter

EDL – Essential diagnostics List. Published by the World Health Organisation

Ed Psychs – Educational Psychologists

EDR – Excess death rate

EDR – Electronic death registration

Ed Sykes – If you’ve only heard this spoken, you may wonder who this Ed Sykes person is. See Ed Psychs.

EEA – European Economic Area. The 27 (since the UK left) European Union countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

EHC – Education, Health and Care
An EHC assessment is a requirement coming out of the Children and Families Act (2014). Existing Statements of Special Educational Need have to be transferred to EHC Plans by April 2018.

EHC – Emergency hormonal contraception (the ‘morning after’ pill)

EHCP – Education, health and care plans (also EHC plan). The EHCP is a legal document that identifies needs and support for children and young people up to the age of 25 beyond that available through special educational needs support. The special educational provision must be provided by the person’s local authority.

EHIC – European Health Insurance Card

EHS – Emergency hospital services

Elective admissions or care – planned or not unexpected (as opposed to emergency admissions).

ELSA – English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Elsa – character inducing extreme emotional responses in small children (Elsa of Arendelle, in Disney’s Frozen and Frozen II).

EMA – European Medicines Agency

EMCDDA – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Enablement – (see also re-enablement). Helping people to be able to do daily tasks themselves (which perhaps they were able to do before an accident or illness) so as to be able to live more independently. Sometimes described as the same as reablement but in some areas they are different services.

Endocrinology – is the study of hormones.

ENDPB – Executive Non-departmental public body

ENT – Ear, nose and throat

EOF – Education Outcomes Framework

EOI – Expression of interest (e.g. the first stage of a bidding process)

EOL – End of life

EOLC – End of life care

ePMA – Electronic prescribing and medicines administration

EPPaCCS – Electronic Palliative Care Co-ordination Systems

EPR – Electronic patient record
(Powerpoint presentation:

EPS – Electronic Prescription Service. (Allows prescribers such as GPs to send prescriptions electronically to dispensers such as pharmacies)

ERDF – European Regional Development Fund

ERF – Elective recovery fund. Government money to help clear the backlog of elective procedures following the Covid pandemic.

ERPC – evacuation of retained products of conception
“For many years, surgical management of miscarriage was called ERPC, an abbreviation for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception, which means the removal of the remains of the pregnancy and surrounding tissue. Many people find this term upsetting, which is why it should not be used any more, but you might still hear it or see it written.”

ESA – Employment and Support Allowance

ESC – European Society of Cardiology

ESD – Early supported discharge

ESF – European Social Fund

ESOL – English for speakers of other languages

ESRC – Economic and Social Research Council

ETTF – Estates and Technology Transformation Fund

EU – European Union

EUPD – emotionally unstable personality disorder

EWS – Early warning scores (see also NEWS, National Early Warning Score)


FACS – Fair Access to Care Service. Guidance issued by DH in 2003.

FCE – Finished consultant episode. The time spent under the care of a consultant. A very detailed definition of a consultant episode is given here:

FCE – Functional capacity evaluation. An assessment of someone’s ability to function in different circumstances.

FDA – the United States Food and Drug Administration

FDF – Food and Drink Federation

fEC – full economic costing. The full cost of a research project, for use in working out funding contributions. It includes direct costs such as salaries and their overheads, allocation of costs for such things as estates and laboratory time and indirect costs such as capital employed.|

FFT – Friends and Family Test

FFW – fit for work (benefits)

FGM – female genital mutilation

FMC – first medical contact

FNC – see NHS-FNC (NHS funded nursing care)

FNP – Family Nurse Partnership

FOI – Freedom of information.

FOT – Forecast outturn

FPH – Faculty of Public Health

FPPR – Fit and Proper Persons Requirement

Francis – sometimes used as an abbreviation for the Francis report, written by Robert Francis QC, into the problems at the Mid-Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust.

FRS – Fire and rescue service

FRS – Fellow of the Royal Society

FRS – Family resources survey

FSA – Food Standards Agency

FSM – free school meals. Frequently used as a proxy for deprivation.

FT – Foundation Trust

FT – Financial Times

FTE – Full time equivalent. (i.e. converting what the part time workforce would be equal to in terms of number of full time workers). Sometimes described as: WTE – Whole time equivalent.

FTP – Fitness to Practise

FU – follow up (e.g. patient being called back to another outpatient appointment). See also PIFU, patient initiated follow up.


G&A – General and acute (in relation to planned admissions to hospitals)

GAD – Generalised anxiety disorder

GCP – Good clinical practice

GCS – Glasgow Coma Scale. A measure of someone’s consciousness based on their ability to perform eye movements, speak and move their body.

GDC – General Dental Council

GDE – Global Digital Examplars. Seven mental health trusts pioneering use of digital technologies

GDG – Guideline Development Group. Involved in developing clinical guidelines as part of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

GDP – General Dental Practitioner

General Pharmaceutical Council

Getting it Right First Time – see GIRFT

GI – gastrointestinal

GIC – Gender identity clinic

Gini coefficient – a measure of inequality (such distribution of income) ranging from 0 for perfect equality to 1 representing maximum inequality.

GIRFT – Getting it Right First Time. A national improvement programme designed to reduce unwarranted variation in service delivery and clinical practice, supported by £60m of funding from the Department of Health.

GM – Genetically Modified (e.g. GM foods)

GM – Greater Manchester (e.g. in the context of devolution of health spending to Greater Manchester in March 2015)

GMC – General Medical Council

GMS – General Medical Services. A form of contract for service with a GPs’ practice rather than individual GPs. (See also PMS)

Golden Patient – the first patient of the day on a theatre list. The idea is that, particularly for non-elective (such as trauma) patients, there can be initial delays in getting patients ready for theatre. So someone is selected the day before as the first patient, so you can get going quickly. I have seen it used as far back as 2012, but have not found the original source of the term.

GORD – gastro-oesophageal reflux disease

GP – General Practitioner

GPAS – Guidelines for the Provision of Anaesthetist Services

GPC – BMA General Practitioners Committee

GPES – GP extraction system. Automatically takes data from GPs’ IT systems.

GPhC – General Pharmaceutical Council

GPNRO – General Practice National Recruitment Office

GPPAQ – General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire

GPWSI – GPs with special interests

GRADE – Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation. A system used by NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Evidence) for rating the quality of evidence across outcomes in systematic reviews and guidelines.


HALE – Health adjusted life expectancy

HAN or H@N – hospital at night services. Arrangements for providing cover over night and out of hours.
(Article from 2007)

HAP – Hospital acquired pneumonia

HAPU – Hospital acquired pressure ulcers

HBAI – Households below average income

HBPM – Home blood pressure monitoring

HBV – Hepatitis B virus

HCA – Health Care Adviser

HCA – Health Care Associated – e.g. disease acquired in a health care setting.

HCAI – Healthcare Acquired Infection. Also Healthcare Associated Infection

HCP – Health Care Professional

HCP – Healthy Child Programme

HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council

HCSA – Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association

HCV – Hepatitis C virus

Healthwatch – The consumer champion for health and social care. There is a Healthwatch in each of the 152 single tier and county council areas in England. They replaced the Local Involvement Networks or LINks. There is also a national body, Healthwatch England which can provide support and take up issues at the national level.

HDU – High dependency unit

HEE – Health Education England

HEI – Higher Education Institution

HES – Hospital Episode Statistics

HFEA – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

HFMA – Healthcare Financial Management Association

HFSS – foods high in fat, salt and sugar

HIIA – Health inequality impact assessment

HIIT – High intensity interval training

HIP – Health Infrastructure Plan. A five year programme, launched in September 2019, to invest in infrastructure, including a new hospital building programme (the ’40 new hospitals’ promised during the general election of that year). The second phase is known as HIP2.

HIT – High Intensity Therapist

HLE – Health life expectancy

HLIN – Housing Learning and Improvement Network

HMO – Health Maintenance Organisation

HOCIA – Home Office Contracted Initial Accommodation. Where asylum seekers are initially housed.

HOSC – Health overview and scrutiny committee

HQIP – Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership

HRA – Health Research Authority

HRCT – High resolution computed tomography

HRG – Health related group. A way of dividing up conditions and treatments for determining payment rates by commissioners. “HRGs are groupings of clinically similar conditions or treatments that use similar levels of healthcare resources.” (National Tariff Payment System 2016-17, p.10).

HRG – Healthcare Resource Groups (groupings of patient events judged to consume similar levels of resources, used as a sort of ‘currency’ in commissioning. There are about 1,400 of them).

HSC – Health Selection Committee (of the House of Commons)

HSCIC – Health and Social Care Information Centre.
An Executive Non-departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is changing its name to NHS Digital from July 2016.

HSE – Health and Safety Executive

HSIB – Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch. Came into being on 1st April 2016. It became the Health Service Safety Investigations Body (HSSIB), in October 2024 as set out in the Health Services Safety Investigations Bill, the provisions of which were subsequently included in the Health and Care Bill, and then Act.

HSL – Health and Safety Laboratory

HSMR – Hospital standardised mortality ratio

HSSIB – Health Service Safety Investigations Body. Established 18th October 2024. Set up by the Health and Care Act (which incorporated provisions from the Health Service Safety Investigations Bill), replacing the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch.

HTN – Hypertension

HV – Health visitor

HWB – Health and Wellbeing Board (sometimes abbreviated as HWBB)

HWE – Healthwatch England


IAPT – Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

Iatrogenic – the unintentional creation of harm to a patient by a physician or treatment.

IB – Incapacity Benefit

ICAS – Independent Complaints Advocacy Service

ICC – Intra-cluster coefficient (statistic used in experimental trials)

ICD – International classification of diseases

ICECSCR – International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (The Equalities and Human Rights Commission suggested in April 2016 that the forthcoming junior doctors’ contract could contravene this convention).

ICER – Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. The cost of extra treatment for a given outcome, or more formally, as NICE puts it: “The difference in the change in mean costs in the population of interest divided by the difference in the change in mean outcomes in the population of interest.” The most commonly used ICER in the UK is the QALY, or Quality Adjusted Life Year (which might tell you, for instance, that paying £15,000 for a drug could give someone one extra high quality year of life).

ICH – International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. Brings together regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical industry to produce guidelines for the development and registration of medicines. Started in 1990, it was established as an international non-profit association under Swiss law in 2015. [From its website]. Amongst its guidelines is that on Good Clinical Practice, on the conduct of clinical trials, hence the abbreviation ICH-GCP.

ICH – GCP – international guidelines and standards on the conduct of clinical trials (see also ICH).

ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office

ICO – Integrated Care Organisation (as proposed by Labour in the 2014 election campaign, for integrating health and social care)

ICP – Individual care plan

ICP – Integrated Care Provider (See

ICP – Integrated Care Partnership

ICP – Intracranial Pressure

ICS – Integrated Care System. Previously known as ‘accountable care system’. “An Integrated Care System is where health and care organisations voluntarily come together to provide integrated services for a defined population.” (Source: NHS England, Refreshing NHS Plans for 2018/19.) From 1st July 2022 the 42 formally constituted bodies took over the functions of Clinical Commissioning Groups. There are two parts of the ICS, the Integrated Care Board and Integrated Care Partnership.

ICS – Intensive Care Society

ICSP – Integrated Customer Service Platform (the ‘daughter’ of NHS Choices).

ICU – Intensive Care Unit

IDCR – Integrated Digital Care Record (the new name for Electronic Patient Record:

IELTS – International English Language Testing System. (Doctors are required to have achieved a certain level before they can be licensed to practise in the UK).

IFG – Institute for Government

IFR – Individual funding request. A request for funding for a treatment not normally funded by the commissioner.

IFRS – International Financial Reporting Standards

IGPR – International GP Recruitment Programme

IIF – Investment and Impact Fund. An incentive scheme for Primary Care Networks, encouraging the delivery of priority objectives for quality care.

IIGOP – Independent Information Governance Oversight Panel
(First annual report:

IHD – Ischaemic heart disease

IHPN – Independent Healthcare Providers Network. It describes itself as: “the representative body for independent sector healthcare providers of services ranging through acute, primary, community, clinical home healthcare, diagnostics and dental.”

ILI – Influenza-like illness

ILS – Immediate Life Support

IMCA – Independent Mental Capacity Advocate

IMD – Index of multiple deprivation
The indices of deprivation are being revised (2014-15):
Indices of deprivation 2010:
Detailed article on the differences between measures in the four countries of the UK:–53–spring-2012/uk-indices-of-multiple-deprivation.html?format=print

IMHA – Independent Mental Health Advocacy / Advocates

IMP – investigational medicinal products (medicines used in research such as clinical trials).

INLIQ – Indicators No Longer Incentivised in QOF. Indicators which continue to be collected by NHS Digital, where the information is felt to be useful, but which are no longer used in the Quality Outcomes Framework (where meeting certain thresholds against indicators triggers payments to GPs).

IOFM – Intraoperative Fluid Management. Management of the hydration of a patient during a surgical operation, usually by an anaesthetist.

IOSH – Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

Incidence – the number of new cases (e.g. of an illness, injury or mortality) amongst a specific population during a particular period. (Whereas ‘prevalence’ is the proportion of cases at a given time). So this would tell you about the risk of contracting an illness, sustaining an injury etc.

IP – Inpatient

IP – Intellectual property

IPC – Integrated Personal Commissioning. A programme to provide personal budgets combining health and social care to various groups of people with high needs, announced by Simon Stevens at the 2014 LGA annual conference.

IPS – Individual placement and support. Support to help people with severe mental illness into employment

IPSIS – Independent Public Safety Investigations Service (starts in April 2016).
Consultation on setting up the service:

IPT – Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPVA – Interpersonal violence and abuse

IRAS – Integrated Research Application System. A system for applying to the UK Health Research Authority for approval to undertake health, social and community care research.

IRISS – The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services. A charitable company which aims to promote positive outcomes for people who use Scotland’s social services.

IR – Identification Rules. A way of identifying which healthcare activities are ‘specialist’ (so within the remit of NHS England rather than Clinical Commissioning Groups).

IR(ME)R – Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations

IRO – Independent Reviewing Officer. A person appointed to periodically review a child’s care plan and to challenge the local authority if they believe the plan is not in the best interests of the child.

Feature article, how independent are IROs:

IRP – Independent Reconfiguration Panel. A non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health providing independent advice on service change.

IS – Income support

ISDS – Investor-state dispute settlement. A mechanism for resolving disputes under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which critics are concerned could mean private companies could sue governments for loss of profits, outside of national legal systems.

ISF – Individual support fund or Individual Service Fund. A person’s personal budget is held by a care provider but the person decides how it is spent to meet their needs.

ISRCTN – International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number.
A system for monitoring randomised controlled trials world wide by allocating unique numbers to them.

ISTC – Independent sector treatment centres

IT – Information technology

ITC – Information and communications technology

ITT – Invitation to tender

ITU – Intensive therapy unit

IVAR – Institute for Volunteering Research


JAG – The Joint Advisory Group on Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (sets standards and provides quality assurance in endoscopy)

JBS – Joint British Societies

JBS3 – Joint British Societies recommendation on the prevention of cardiovascular disease

JCVI – Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation

JDC – Junior Doctors Committee of the BMA. [On the website spelled without an apostrophe)

JHWS – Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The requirement for Health and Wellbeing Boards (on behalf of councils and CCGs) to produce a JHWS was set out in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. The name of the strategy was changed under the 2022 Health and Care Act, to ‘Joint Local Health and Wellbeing Strategy’, to distinguish is from the strategy to be produced by the Integrated Care Partnership.

JLHWS – Joint Local Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The new name for the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy determined by the 2022 Health and Care Act.

JRF – Joseph Rowntree Foundation

JSA – Job Seeker’s Allowance

JSNA – Joint Strategic Needs Analysis

JTAI – Joint Targeted Area Inspections. Joint inspections by Ofsted, the CQC, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and HM Inspectorate of Probation on how local services work together to safeguard vulnerable children.


KFRE – Kidney Failure Risk Equation

Kinship carers – family and friends looking after children (as opposed to being looked after by parents or foster parents for instance)

KLOE – Key Lines of Enquiry (e.g. the framework of questions used by inspectors of public services)

KMC – Kangaroo mother care. A technique for premature and small babies involving early and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother and breastfeeding.

KPI – Key performance indicator


L&D – Liaison and Diversion. Services for offenders with mental health, learning disabilities, substance or other vulnerabilities.

LA – Local authority

LA – Local anaesthetic

LAC – Looked after children

LAC – Local authority circular (e.g. as issued by the Department of Health to communicate guidance or a requirement for urgent action by local authorities).

LACDP – Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People.

LARCs – Long-acting reversible contraceptives.

LAT – Local area team. NHS England is structured into 4 regions and 27 local area teams.
See here for a map of regions and LATs:

LBW – low birth weight

LCP – Liverpool Care Pathway

LD – Learning disability

LDA – Learning difficulty assessment. To be phased out by September 2016 under the Children and Families Act 2014

LDP – Local Delivery Partnerships; the local delivery arms of the NHS Leadership Academy

LDR – Local digital roadmap

LEP – Local economic partnership

LES – Local Enhanced Services (additional funding to GPs for particular services)

LETB – Local Education and Training Board. 13 local boards operated by Health Education England. (Replaced the Deaneries)

LFPSE – Learn from Patient Safety Events. (A national service being rolled out in 2023)

LGA – Local Government Association (a voluntary association of local authorities in England and Wales, of which most are members. Undertakes lobbying on their behalf and promotion of improvement)

LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender
LGBTQIA – Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual

LGIU – Local Government Information Unit

LGO – Local Government Ombudsman

LHCRE – Local Healthcare Records Exemplars. They are regional collaborations to develop shared health and care records, initially funded by NHS England. (They seem to be pronounced ‘lycra’ or sometimes ‘lacra’.)

LHE – Local health economy

LINks – Local Involvement Networks. The predecessor bodies to Healthwatch.

LMC – Local Medical Committee. Representative committees of local NHS GPs. (They are recognised in legislation)

LOC – Loss of consciousness

LOS – Length of stay

LP – Lumbar puncture

LPA – Lasting Power of Attorney

LPC – Local Pharmaceutical Committee

LPN – Local Professional Networks. Networks for pharmacy, optometry and dentistry within each of the NHS England Local Area Teams

LRTI – lower respiratory tract infection

LSP – Local strategic partnership

LTC – Long term conditions

LTFU – Lost to follow up (in clinical trials)

LTN – Low-traffic neighbourhoods

LUTS – lower urinary tract symptoms

LWBC – Living with and beyond cancer


MAC – Migration Advisory Committee (advises the government on migration issues, including skills shortages within occupations, such as nursing)

Mandate – see NHS Mandate

Marac – Multi-agency risk assessment conference (in relation to abuse or domestic violence)
News feature including links to research:

MASH – Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
(e.g. see:

Max fax – maxillofacial. Relating to the mouth, jaw, face and neck. See OMF, oral and maxillofacial,

MCA – Mental Capacity Act (2005)

MCCA – Multi-compartment compliance aids. ‘Blister packs’ for storing medication, with each compartment containing the pills to be taken at that time or on that day.

MCCD – Medical certificate of cause of death

MCI – Mild cognitive impairment (the slowing of memory and thinking skills as we get older)

MCN – Managed Clinical Network. Used in various contexts. One is in relation to Children’s Palliative Care

MCP – multispeciality community provider (the suggestion in the 2014 Five Year Forward View that there should be a degree of merger between primary and secondary care, by GPs bringing in specialists or acute trusts employing GPs with more local services).

MDD – Major depressive disorder

MDGs – Millennium Development Goals

MDO – Medical Defence Organisation

MDT – Multi-disciplinary team

MDU – Medical Defence Union

ME – Myalgic encephalopathy (also called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS))

ME – Medical examiner. They review all deaths in England and Wales that are not reviewed by a coroner.

MECC – Making Every Contact Count

MEH – Multiple exclusion homelessness
See, for instance, the results of research:

MEP – Member of the European Parliament

MET – Motivational enhancement therapy

MEWS – Modified Early Warning Score

MFFD – Medically fit for discharge

MUR – Medicines Use Review

MeSH – Medical Subject Headings. A ‘vocabulary’ used in indexing life sciences articles and books.

MHA – Mental Health Act

MHC – Major health conditions

MHCLG – Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Renamed from the Department of Communities and Local Government in the January 2018 reshuffle.

MHFA – Mental health first aid

MHMDS – Mental Health Minimum Data Set

MHN – Mental Health Network

MHRA – Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

MHSDS – Mental Health Services Data Set

MINAP – Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project. A part of the National Cardiac Audit Programme, collecting data about the care for heart attack patients from the initial call through till final discharge.

MIU – Minor Injuries Unit

M&M – morbidity and mortality

MMR – Measles, mumps and rubella. (There was a discredited health scare which linked the MMR vaccination to autism and reduced the number of children having the jab)

MND – Motor Neurone disease

MOH – Major obstetric haemorrhage

Monitor – sector regulator for health services in England. (In perhaps crude terms, Monitor deals with finance and mergers while the CQC deals with quality of service).

Morbidity – having disease or the incidence of disease

MOU – Memorandum of understanding

MP – Member of Parliament (UK)

MPET – Multi-professional education and training

MPIG – Minimum Practice Income Guarantee.
Set up after changes to the GP contract in 2004 to ensure smaller practices still obtain a sustainable income.
Article on how its withdrawal threatens rural practices:–government-reduces-funding-and-workloads-increase-8798821.html

MPS – Medical Protection Society

MRC – Medical Research Council

MRCGP – Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners. The qualification for entering general practice.

MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

MSA – Mixed sex accommodation

MSC – Medical Schools Council. A representative body for the UK’s medical schools.

MSK – Musculoskeletal

MSLC – Maternity Service Liaison Committee

MSM – Men who have Sex with Men

MSP – Making safeguarding personal

Multip – short for multipara or multiparous and meaning a woman who has given birth twice or more (in contrast to ‘primip’, short for primipara, a woman giving birth for the first time).

MUPS – Medically unexplained physical symptoms (see also MUPS)

MUR – Medicines Use Review. MURs are carried out by accredited pharmacists with people taking multiple medicines, particularly for long term conditions, to discuss how the patient is getting on with the medicines and whether they are working.

MUS – Medically unexplained symptoms (see also MUPS)

MUST – Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool

MVPA – Moderate to vigorous physical activity

MWF – Medical Women’s Federation


Nacel – National Audit of Care at End of Life.

nad – no abnormality detected. No apparent distress. No acute disease. No active disease.

NAIRO – National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers

NAO – National Audit Office

NAPAC – The National Association for People Abused in Childhood

NAPC – National Association of Primary Care

NAVCA – National Association for Voluntary and Community Action –

NBM – Nil by mouth (or nothing my mouth), i.e. no food or drink. Sometimes also NPO – nil per os.

NCAP – National Cardiac Audit Programme.

NCAPOP – National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcome Programme

NCCID – National Collaborating Centre for Indicator Development

NCIMI – National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging

NCD – Non-communicable disease

NCD – Network Contract DES (Directed Enhanced Service). Set of indicators for Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

NCIN – National Cancer Intelligence Network.
A “UK-wide partnership operated by Public Health England” that “coordinates and develops analysis and intelligence to drive improvements in prevention, standards of cancer care and clinical outcomes for cancer patients.”

NCMP – National child measurement programme. Introduced in 2006. Measures children’s height and weight at age 4-5 and 10-11.

NCRAS – National Cancer Registration and Analysis System

ND – neurodivergent

NDA – National Diabetes Audit

NDPB – Non-departmental public body (i.e. not under the direct control of a government department)

NDRS – National Disease Registration Service

NDTMS – National Drug Treatment Monitoring System

NED – Non-executive director

NEL – non-elective (i.e. not a pre-planned visit to hospital)

Never events – serious but in principle preventable events in the health service, which ‘should never happen’

NEWS – National Early Warning Score. A tool to help identify clinical deterioration in patients. It is based on 6 physiological factors. Scores range from 0-20 with higher numbers worse. A score of 5 or more is the threshold for urgent clinical review. The six factors are: respiration rate; oxygen saturation; systolic blood pressure; pulse rate; level of consciousness or new confusion; temperature.

NG – nasogastric. Relating to both the nasal passage and the stomach.

NGC – Next Generation Care
[Seems to be the name given to specific projects in different parts of the country, rather than a national initiative]

NGO – Non-governmental organisation (such as a charity. Often used in the context of international development)

NGT – nasogastric tube. A tube that goes through the nose and into the stomach, to allow food to be given directly.

NH – Nursing home

NHS – National Health Service

NHSBT – NHS Blood and Transplant

NHSCB – National Health Service Commissioning Board. The working name was changed to ‘NHS England’ on 26/3/13 (

NHSCC – see NHS Clinical Commissioners.

NHS Clinical Commissioners. The independent, collective voice of CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) at a national level.

NHS Commissioning Assembly

NHS Constitution

NHS Digital. Previously called the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

NHSE – NHS England. Was initially known as the NHS Commissioning Board. Created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

NHS FNC – NHS (National Health Service) funded nursing care.

NHS IQ – NHS Improving Quality. (The improvement body for the health service from April 2012, replacing five bodies).

NHSLA – NHS Litigation Authority. (‘insurance scheme for Trusts’. The higher the standards you can demonstrate the lower the premium)

NHS Mandate – this sets out the Government’s strategic requirements for the NHS to NHS England

NHSP – NHS Professionals. They run a bank of temporary workers – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, non-clinical etc. – for NHS trusts.

NHSPRB – NHS Pay Review Body

NHS Safety Thermometer – see Safety Thermometer

NHSBSA – NHS Business Services Authority

NHSX – is a joint organisation for digital, data and technology. Its roles are to include setting policy and standards, supporting the use of new technologies, reforming procurement and championing training.

NIB – National Inclusion Board. Seems to have been used on some occasions when actually meaning the National Inclusion Health Board, e.g.

NIB – National Information Board

NIBSC – National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

NIC – Nurse in charge

NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

NICON – Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care

NICOR – National Institute for Cardiovascular Outcomes Research

NIESR – National Institute of Economic and Social Research

NIGB – National Information Governance Board. (Abolished 1st April 2013).

NIH – National Institutes of Health. It is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is “the nation’s medical research agency”.

NIHB – National Inclusion Health Board

NIHSS – National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. A combined score based on abilities to perform different functions to show the degree of impairment from a stroke

NIV – Non-invasive ventilation. Air, usually with added oxygen, is delivered through a face or nasal mask under positive pressure. It is non-invasive because it is not through a tube into the windpipe. (

NIHR – National Institute for Health Research

NIPPV – Nasal intermittent positive pressure ventilation

NLRS – National Learning and Reporting System

NLW – National Living Wage. Originally a voluntary hourly rate set independently and updated annually by the Living Wage Foundation. Subsequently hijacked by Chancellor George Osborne who used the term to refer to a new, higher level minimum wage.

NMC – Nursing and Midwifery Council

NMCRR – National Mortality Case Record Review Programme. A programme led by the Royal College of Physicians, running between 2016-19, about reviewing the care received from patients who had died to improve learning and understanding.

NME – National Medical Examiner

NNRU – National Nursing Research Unit

NNT – number needed to treat: the number of people who need to be treated, for instance with medication, to be sure that at least one of them has an effective response.

NOAC – Novel oral anticoagulant. For a discussion of the origin of the abbreviation and possible complications of its use, see:

NOF – neck of femur. (Usually in the context of it being fractured). Broken hip.

NOID – notifications of infectious diseases

NOK – next of kin

Non-admitted patients – not admitted to hospital, i.e. outpatients

Nosocomial infection – a hospital acquired infection.

NPFiT – the National Programme for IT. A programme begun in 2002 and dismantled in 2011, for connecting electronic patient records.

NPI – New Policy Institute

NPO – Nil per os, latin meaning nothing by mouth. See also NBM.

NPS – New Psychoactive Substances
(e.g. see report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

NPSA – National Patient Safety Agency

NPSA – National Patient Safety Alerts

NRLS – National Reporting and Learning System

NRPF – No recourse to public funds (this might apply to immigrant families seeking leave to remain in the country, waiting for a decision from the Home Office)

NRT – Nicotine replacement therapy (to help people stop smoking. This could be such things as nicotine gum or patches)

NSAH – National Skills Academy for Health

NSAID – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

NSC – National Screening Committee

NSF – National Service Framework

NSOL – National Shortage Occupational List

NSP – Needle and syringe programmes

NSPA – National Suicide Prevention Alliance

NTPS – National Tariff Payment System. The rules governing how commissioners pay for health services in England.

NH – nursing home


OAP – old age pensioner
OAP – out of area placement

OBC – outcomes based commissioning

OBR – Office for Budget Responsibility

Occult – obscure or hidden from view, such as blood in faeces, which could be a sign of intestinal bleeding.

OCP – Oral contraceptive pill

od – every day (from Latin, omni die). Normally written lower case.

ODA – Olympic Delivery Authority

Odds ratio – a way of assessing risk or likelihood of something happening (such as getting a disease). It works in the same way as odds for horse racing.

ODN – Operational Delivery Networks

OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It describes itself as “providing a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.” Also described as rich countries’ think tank. They have also done some interesting work on wellbeing (and how it can be measured as an alternative to GDP).

Ofsted – The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

OGD – Oesophago-Gastroduodenoscopy

OHCA – out of hospital cardiac arrest

OJEU – Official Journal of the European Union (amongst other things, some large tenders have to be advertised there to allow organisations from elsewhere in the EU to bid for them)

OMF – Oral and maxillofacial. See also Max Fax. “(OMF) Surgeons specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck. OMF surgery is unique in requiring a dual qualification in medicine and dentistry, and is often seen as the bridge between medicine and dentistry, treating conditions that require expertise from both backgrounds …”

ONS – Office for National Statistics

OOH – out of hours (service)

OOH – out of home (e.g. in relation to calorie labelling on restaurant menus).

OOH – out of hospital

OPCS – Operating Procedure Code Supplement

OPD – Outpatient Department

OPMH – Older people’s mental health

OR – Odds ratio

ORCP – Operational Resilience and Capacity Planning (especially for deailing with winter pressures)

ORSs – Oral rehydration salts

OSA – Obstructive sleep apnea

OTC – Over the counter. As in OTC drugs, i.e. medicines that can be bought, not requiring a prescription.

OTD – on the day

OU – Observation unit (see also Clinical Decision Unit)

OU – Open University

Overdiagnosis – the diagnosis of disease that would never cause symptoms or death in a person’s lifetime. [Understood by less than 3% of the population. Not surprising it seems to me – seems an odd word for that concept.]

OVM – Overseas Visitor Managers. See also OVO. People employed to identify and recover costs from those not entitled to free care.

OVOs – Overseas Visitor Officers (employed by hospitals to identify and recover costs from those not entitled to free care). See also OVM.


p.a. – per annum, i.e. for each year (e.g. the cost is £30m p.a. = the cost is £30 million pounds a year).

PA – Physical activity

PAC – Public Accounts Committee

PACAC – Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. Previous called just the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC).

PACS – Primary and Acute Care System. (A form of health provision emerging from the 2014 Five Year Forward View that there should be a degree of merger between primary and secondary care. This would be like, but an extension of, the Multi-speciality Community Provider model, and would integrate hospital, primary care, mental health and potentially social care services.)
A short description of what it might look like is given on the expression of interest form here:

PAD – peripheral arterial disease

Palliative – treatment that provides relief from pain or symptoms without providing a cure. Usually used to refer to treatment for incurable conditions, often at the end of life.

PALS – Patient Advice and Liaison Service. Generally located in hospitals to help communications with patients.
To find PALS services:
There was also a PALS online service which is no longer available, see note at:

PAM – Patient Activation Measure
(See, for instance,

PAM – NHS Premises Assurance Model

Parnuts – Foods for Particular Nutritional Uses

Patients’ Association – small national body collecting opinions and campaigning for improvement

PACS – Primary and acute care services. Bodies combining primary and secondary care (hospitals and GPs) as suggested in the Five Year Forward View, published on 23rd October 2014.

PAD – peripheral artery disease

PAS – Patient Administration System
(Described in NHS Confed document on using data:

PAS – Patient Access Schemes

PASC – House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. Subsequently called the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC)

PASLU – Patient Access Scheme Liaison Unit

PbR – payment by results

PCA – Personal Capability Assessment

PCA – Personalised Care Adjustment. Adjustment of the number of patients included in indicators for the QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework, for GPs) depending on factors such as whether they have refused treatment or the GP has advised that the treatment is not appropriate in that case (so the GP should not be penalised for not giving the treatment).

PCN – Primary Care Networks. Groups of GP practices covering populations of 30,000 – 50,000, working with other health providers and local bodies to offer integrated, community based healthcare. Proposals for PCNs were set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019.

PCSE – Primary Care Support England

PCT – Primary Care Trust (abolished by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act)

PDA – patient decision aids

PDA – personal digital assistant (now largely superseded by smart phones)

PCO – Primary Care Organisation [generic term]

PDRA – Post doctoral research assistant

PDS – Primary dental services

PE – Physical examination

PEAT – Patient Environment Action Team. (Replaced by PLACE in April 2013)

PEC – Priority Enhanced Care

PEG tube – PEG stands for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy. A PEG tube is inserted into the patient through the abdominal wall usually as a means of providing food and nutrition.

PEoLC – Palliative and End of Life Care

Performers List

Personal budgets – the allocation to an individual of the costs of their care. The money might be under the direct control of the individual or it might be spent on their behalf by service commissioners.

Personal health budgets – budget allocated to individuals for their health care

PESI – pulmonary embolism severity index

PGD – Patient Group Direction. They are: “are written instructions for the supply or administration of medicines to groups of patients who may not be individually identified before presentation for treatment.” –

PHB – Personal health budgets

PHE – Public Health England

PHM – Population health management

PHOF – Public health outcomes framework

PHRD – Public health responsibility deal. (An approach where the government works with the private sector to encourage voluntary changes to improve public health).

PHSO – Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

PHW – Public Health Wales

PI – Principal investigator (e.g. in research)

PIC – Participant Identification Centres

PICC – peripherally inserted central catheter

PICU – Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit
PICU – Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

PIFU – Patient initiated follow up (where designated as appropriate, the patient decides when their follow up outpatient appointment should be, depending on how their recovery is going, whether they have any questions etc.)

PIL – Patient Information Leaflet (that comes in the packaging with medicines to explain usage, side effects etc.)

PLAB – Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board. Tests for doctors trained overseas before they can practise in Britain.

PLAF – Pre-doctoral Local Authority Fellowship Scheme. (See also DLAF, the doctoral scheme)

PLACE – Patient Led Assessments of the Care Environment. (Replaced PEAT assessments)

PLCV – Procedures of limited clinical value

PLICS – Patient Level Information and Costing Systems
See for instance:

PM – Prime Minister
PM – Performance management

PM – Project manager

PM – Practice manager (typically of a GP practice)

PM – Post meridiem. In the afternoon.

PM – Post mortem

PMCF – Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund. First announced in October 2013 with £50m to improve access to general practice, with a further £100m announced in 2014.

PMH – Past medical history

PMLD – profound and multiple learning disabilities

PMRT – Perinatal Mortality Review Tool.

PMS – Personal Medical Services. A form of contract for services with an individual GP rather than a GP practice. (See also GMS)

PMS – Premenstrual syndrome

PMS – Psychological Medical Services

PN – Practice Nurse

PN – Press notice

PNA – Pharmaceutical Needs Assessment

PO – by mouth (from Latin, per os)

PoC – Programmes of Care.
NHS England’s 74 Clinical Reference Groups are organised into 5 programmes of care: internal medicine; cancer and blood; mental health; trauma; women and children.

POC – Proof of concept

POCD – Postoperative cognitive dysfunction. Experiencing cognitive problems such as inability to do tasks, such as crosswords, requiring memory or concentration, after surgery.

POCT – Point of care test

POCUS – Point-of-care Ultrasound

POD – Patient outcome data

POD – Postoperative days

POD – Point of delivery

POD – Physician of the Day

POD – Pharmacy, Optometry and Dentistry. (Primary care services in addition to GPs)

POET © – Personal outcomes evaluation tool. Developed by charity ‘In

Control’ and Lancaster University, with government funding, to assess outcomes for personal budget recipients.

POLCE – Procedures of low clinical effectiveness

Population health – “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group”

POSSUM – physiological and operative severity score for the enumeration of mortality and morbidity

Portage – “is a home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional support needs and their families” (from website). (Apparently it also means carrying boats or cargo between two navigable waters.)

PPD – Prescribed place of detention

PPE – Patient and public engagement (sometimes also PPI, PPP or PPV – Involvement, Participation, Voice).

PPE – Personal protective equipment

PPE – Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Oxford degree popular amongst people who go on to become politicians and civil servants)

POA – Pre-operative Assessment

PPG – Patient Participation Group

PPI – Patient and public involvement
PPI – Proton Pump Inhibitor

PPIF – Patient and Public Involvement Forums. (Replaced Community Health Forums in 2002, and were replaced by Local Involvement Networks (LINks) in 2008, which were then replaced by Healthwatch in 2013.

PPN – Procurement Policy Note. (E.g. issued by the Crown Commercial Service)

PPP – Patient and public participation (more commonly PPI or PPE)

PPRS – Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

PPV – Patient and public voice (more commonly PPI or PPE)

PQQ – Pre-qualification questionnaire. (An early stage in a procurement process to assess who will be qualified to bid)

PQS – Pharmacy Quality Scheme

PREM – Patient Reported Experience Measure

Prevalence – the proportion of a population with a condition (such as an illness) at a given point in time (whereas ‘incidence’ is the number of new cases over a period of time). So this tells you how common it is (rather than how likely you are to get it).

Primary care – usually the first point of contact for health care (diagnosis, advice, treatment) such as that provided by GPs.

Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund – see PMCF

Primip – short for primipara and meaning a women who is pregnant for the first time (in contrast to ‘multip’).

Principal authorities – in relation to local government, these are county, district or single tier councils but not parish, town and community councils.

PRN medication – medications to be taken as needed. Stands for Pro re nata, meaning ‘as the thing is needed’

PROMS – patient-reported outcome measures

PRSB – Professional Records Standards Body

PRU – Pupil referral unit

PSA – Professional Standards Authority. Oversees statutory bodies that that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.

PSED – Public Sector Equality Duty

PSF – Provider Sustainability Fund. Successor to the Sustainability and Transformation Fund from 2018-19.


PSHE – Personal, social and health education (generally relating to it being taught to children)

PSIRF – patient safety incident response framework

PSNC – Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

PSR – Provider Selection Regime. Regulations setting out requirements regarding competition when commissioning health services. Due to come into force on 1st January 2024.

PSW – Peer support worker

PTL – Patient tracking list

PTS – Patient transport service

PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder

PWID – People who inject drugs

PTWR – Post-take ward round

PWP – Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (see: )

PYLL – Potential Years of Life Lost (item 1a in the NHS Outcomes Framework)

Pyrexia – fever. Core body temperature above normal.

Q&A – Question and answer (e.g. question and answer session after a presentation at a conference or event).

Quality premium – an amount paid to CCGs by NHS England for meeting certain targets

QALY – Quality adjusted life year.
Used when assessing the cost effectiveness of different drugs or treatments. Rather than just judging the number of lives save (life years) it considers the quality of those lives. One QALY is one year of perfect life, with the number of years weighted by quality, judged between 0 and 1.

QAP – Qualified Attending Practitioner. Completes an attending practitioner certificate specifying the cause of someone’s death. The certificate is then provided to the medical examiner.

QDS or q.d.s. – four times a day (from the Latin quater die sumendus). Could relate to medicines or treatment or, for instance, to a ‘package’ of social care.

QI – Quality Improvement

(Also the television programme, QI, standing for Quite Interesting).

QIPP – Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention
The workstreams of the programme were taken over by NHS England from 1/4/13 (

QIS – Quality Improvement Scheme

QNI – Queen’s Nursing Institute

QoL – Quality of life

QOF – Quality and Outcomes Framework

QSG – Quality Surveillance Group


RCA – Root cause analysis

RAS – Resource allocation system. Used to assess the level of personal budget a person should have).

RCEM – Royal College of Emergency Medicine

RCGP – Royal College of General Practitioners

RCN – Royal College of Nursing

RCoA – Royal College of Anaesthetists

RCOG – Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

RCP – Royal College of Physicians

RCRP – Right Care Right Person

RCT – Randomised control trial

RD – Responsibility deal (see also PHRD – Public health responsibility deal)

RDA – Recommended daily allowance (e.g. for sugar, salt, vitamins and other components of food)

RDS – Research Design Service. A service funded by the National Institute for Health Research to provide support to health and care researchers on design and methodological issues when preparing applications for grants.

Reablement (re-enablement) – helping people (with a disability or poor physical or mental health) do things for themselves so as to be able to live more independently.

Real terms – in the context of spending this means after adjusting for inflation. For instance if a budget increases from £100 one year to £103 the following year, but inflation is 3%, it hasn’t increased in real terms (the £103 would buy exactly the same as the £100 the previous year).

REC – Research Ethics Committee

Regulation 28. Is a power for coroners to issue a prevention of death report when they are concerned that similar incidents could occur again in future. It is one of the regulations in Statutory Instrument 1629 of 2013, The Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013.

In health – any non-hospital setting
In housing – residential care

RGN – Registered general nurse

RGPPB – Regulation of General Practice Programme Board. Brings together 11 national bodies responsible for the regulation and oversight of general practice in England.

RIAT – Restoring invisible and abandoned trials. An initiative as part of the campaign to make the results of all trials (such as those on new medicines) public, so that failed trials are not hidden, distorting the overall view of results.

RiO – A particular system used to store electronic patient records

RLE – Remaining life expectancy.

RO – Responsible Officer

ROSC – Return of spontaneous circulation (after cardiac arrest)

RPS – Royal Pharmaceutical Society

RQ – respiratory quotient
RQ – reportable quantity

RR – respiratory rate

RSPH – Royal Society for Public Health

RTA – Road traffic accident

RTI – respiratory tract infection

RTT – referral to treatment. How long it takes from a patient being referred for further help to starting treatment.


SACN – Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition

SAD – Seasonal affective disorder (being depressed in winter because of a lack of sunlight)

SAE – serious adverse event

Safety Thermometer – a methodology for measuring, monitoring and analysing patient harms and ‘harm free’ care. It measures harm from pressure ulcers, falls, urine infections (in patients with a catheter) and venous thromboembolism (VTE)

SAGE & THYME® – is a model and workshop “developed by members of staff at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) and a patient in 2006, to teach the core skills of dealing with people in distress.”

SALT – short and long term support (in Adult Social Care)
SALT – Speech and Language Therapy

SAPC – Society for Academic Primary Care

SAM – Society for Acute Medicine

SARCs – Sexual assault referral centres

SARS – Severe acute respiratory syndrome

SAS doctors. “Specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors* are non-training roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, two of those being in a relevant specialty” from

SAU – Services as Usual (e.g. as a comparison to some intervention in a research trial)

s/b – seen by

s/b – stillbirth

SBAR – Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation. A framework for communication, for instance in handovers between medical staff, to ensure all key facets are covered.

SBNT – Social behavioural network therapy

SBP – Systolic blood pressure

SCN – Strategic Clinical Networks.
NHS England has established four strategic clinical networks covering: cancer, cardiovascular, maternity and children, and mental health, dementia and neurological conditions.

SCOC – Standing committee on carers

SCP – Surgical care practitioners
Newspaper article about the role:

SCR – Serious Case Review

SCR – Summary care record

Script – short for prescription

SCS – Sustainable Community Strategy

SCTS – Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery

SD – Standard deviation

SDA – Severe Disablement Allowance

SDCS – Strategic data collection service. The system through which health and care organisations can submit data to NHS Digital.

SDE – Secure data environment. An online place where data can be seen and interrogated but not ‘taken away’. A particular form is the Trusted Research Environment (TRE) where researchers can access NHS patient data.

SDEC – same day emergency care

SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals (global targets, replacing the Millennium Development Goals)

SDH – Social determinants of health (for instance how housing or urban design influence people’s health)

SDH – Subdural haematoma

SDM – Shared decision making. (See

SDT – Self-determination theory

Secondary care. Generally hospitals. ‘Primary’ care is the first place you usually go with a health issue (generally to the GP), and if necessary you may then go on to a ‘second’ or specialist source of help.

Section 47 Enquiry – an enquiry under S.47 of the Children Act 1989 by a social services authority where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, to decide whether the authority should take any action.

SEDIT – Summary Emergency Department Indicator Table

SEN – special educational needs

SEND – Special educational needs and disability
A range of links to further sources of information:
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014:

Sequin – well, it could be a small, shiny disk decorating clothing, but if you’re just hearing, rather than reading this, in a health context, it’s more likely to be CQUIN, a form of financial incentive.

SES – Socio-economic status

SGO – Special guardianship order

SHMI – Summary Hospital-Level Mortality Indicator. The ratio between the numbers in hospital and the expected number according to averages across England by patient type. (The other main mortality indicator is HSMR)
See also

SHO – Senior house officer

SIRI – serious incidents requiring investigation

SLAM – Service Level Agreement Monitoring

SLAM – South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

SLT – Speech and language therapy

SMCP – Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission

SMI – serious or severe mental illness

SME – small and medium sized enterprise

SME – subject matter expert

SMR – standardised mortality ratio. The number of people in a population (e.g. a particular hospital) who die as a proportion of the expected number of deaths in a reference population (eg patients in all hospitals). So it says whether deaths in that population were more or less likely than expected.

SMR – structured medication review

SNA – Social network analysis

SNOD – Specialist nurse organ donation

SNOMED – Systematised Nomenclature of Medicine. A machine-readable language that precisely identifies medical terms including diseases, procedures, microorganisms etc.

SNOMED CT – SNOMED Clinical Terms.

SNT – Soft not tender (e.g. in diagnosis for DVT (deep vein thrombosis )

SOAD – Second opinion appointed doctors (as part of Mental Health Act procedures)

SOB – shortness of breath

SOCITM – Society of Information Technology Management. From the website: “the professional body for people involved in the leadership and management of IT and digitally enabled services delivered for public benefit.”

SOF – Single Oversight Framework for NHS providers. Segmentation by NHS Improvement of NHS trusts, into one of four categories depending on their support needs, designed to help them get CQC ratings of ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. Operational from November 2016.

SOFI – Short Observational Framework for Inspection. A methodology used by CQC.

SoMe – social media

SOP – Standard Operating Procedure

Special Measures – a status applied to some public sector bodies (e.g. schools, councils, health trusts) where they are deemed to be failing to perform to a given standard and particular measures are taken designed to help them improve, or be taken over.
See: ‘A guide for NHS Trusts’ from the CQC, Monitor and the TDA:

SPOC – Single Point of Contact

SpR – Specialist registrar

SRE – Sex and relationship education (e.g. in schools)

SRS – sex reassignment surgery

SSA – Safe Staffing Alliance

SSI – Surgical site infection

SSN – Senior staff nurse

SSRI – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (class of anti-depressant drugs, designed to increase the level of serotonin in the brain)

STAT – immediately.

STD – Sexually transmitted disease (see also STI – sexually transmitted infection)

STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (often in the context of boosting take up of these subjects in school and university to benefit the economy, and increasing take up by girls)

STEMI – ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction. A myocardial infarction is what is commonly known as a heart attack. The ST elevation is where there is an abnormally high reading in the ST part of the electrocardiogram.
(Source: wikipedia:

Sten – ‘standard ten’. A way of standardising scores into a ten point scale in psychometric tests with respect to a larger population of results.

STI – Sexually transmitted infection (see also STD – sexually transmitted disease)

STOMP – “STOMP stands for stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both with psychotropic medicines. It is a national project involving many different organisations which are helping to stop the over use of these medicines. STOMP is about helping people to stay well and have a good quality of life.”

STP – Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Announced in December 2015, the first draft plans were to be submitted by June 2016 by each of the 44 areas in England. They are five year plans to meet the aims of the Five Year Forward View. The abbreviation was subsequently (2017) used for ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ as the intention developed to make them a more significant part of the NHS structure.

A blog with my view on the plans, from October 2016:

SUDEP – Sudden unexpected deaths in epilepsy

SUDI – Sudden unexpected deaths in infancy

SUI – serious untoward incident

SWAN – The Social Work Action Network. A membership organisation promoting “a model of social work and social care practice which is rooted in the value of social justice”.


T&O – trauma and orthopaedic

TA – Teaching assistant

TARN – The Trauma, Audit and Research Network

TAU – Treatment as usual. (In research testing an ‘intervention’ it would typically be compared to what would happen otherwise, in other words the usual ‘treatment’ which could be medical, a therapy or any other sort of help)

TBA – to be arranged

TBC – to be confirmed

TCI – to come in (e.g. for treatment)

TDA – Trust Development Authority

TECS – Technology enabled care services (such as telecare, telehealth and self-care apps)

TEDS – Thromboembolism deterrent stockings

TEP – Treatment escalation plan

TFA – Trans fatty acids

Thermometer – see Safety Thermometer

TIA – Transient Ischaemic Attack (a ‘mini-stroke’)

TINA – There is no alternative. (A phrase made familiar by Margaret Thatcher suggesting that Government policy was the only option).

TLAP – Think Local Act Personal. A national partnership of more than 50 organisations including central and local government, the NHS, providers and representatives of those with care and support needs, committed to personalisation and community based support.

TMG – Trial Management Group (e.g. to oversee university research)

Townsend Index, or Townsend Deprivation Index – a measure of deprivation or poverty (see also IMD, Index of Multiple Deprivation)

ToC – Theory of change. Used in research to indicate how it is hypothesised an intervention will have an effect.

TOC – Table of contents

TPD – Tobacco Products Directive. (A European Union directive).

TRE – Trusted Research Environment. An online space where researchers can securely access and analyse data, rather than the data being sent to them for them to work on on their own systems. The generic term is ‘secure data environments’.—how-health-data-sharing-is-saving-lives

TSA – Trust Special Administrator
TSA – Third Sector Assembly

TSC – Trial Steering Committee (e.g. to oversee university research)

TSO – Third sector organisation

TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It is argued that it could leave CCGs open to be sued by American private healthcare companies for restricting trade if they do not open all services to competition.

TTO – To take out (as in drugs prescribed when leaving hospital)

TVN – Tissue viability nurse


UA – unitary authority. (A council responsible for all services and functions which in shire areas are split between county and district councils)

UASC – Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

UBRN – Unique booking reference number

UCC – Urgent care centre

UCR – urgent community response (teams or services). “Urgent community response teams provide urgent care to people in their homes which helps to avoid hospital admissions and enable people to live independently for longer.”


UEC – Urgent and emergency care

UHC – Universal health care (where the whole population of a country has access to health services)

UKCES – UK Commission for Employment and Skills

UKCRC – UK Clinical Research Collaboration

UKCRN – UK Clinical Research Network

UKHCA – United Kingdom Home Care Association

UKPHR – United Kingdom Public Health Register. Regulates public health professionals.

Unit – a way of expressing the amount of alcohol in a drink

UNCRC – United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNODC – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

USS – Ultrasound scan

UTC – Urgent treatment centre

UTI – Urinary tract infection


Vaping – the use of e-cigarettes (so called because it involves inhaling vapour rather than smoke)

VBAC – Vaginal birth after a caesarian

VBG – venous blood gases

VCR – Vaccination coverage rate

VCS – voluntary and community sector

VCSE – voluntary, community and social enterprise (sector)

VFM – Value for money

VMS – Vasomotor symptoms. This includes menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats caused by constrictions and dilations to blood vessels.

VPS – Violent Patient Scheme. Introduced in 2004 as a ‘directed enhanced service’ to provide a secure environment for patients who had shown challenging and sometimes violent behaviour in their GP practice. [Seems to operate at least in the South West and Central Southern areas. Limited information available on the NHS England website.]

VSM – Very senior management. The top NHS pay grade.

VTE – Venous Thromboembolism. A blood clot within a vein –


Waiting time standards – the NHS constitution says patients have the right to access certain services within maximum waiting times. The list of waiting times is given in the Handbook to the Constitution (p.31-34 of the 2015, second version).

WCA – Work Capability Assessment.
Delivered by French owned company Atos. Has been criticised for being insensitive. Many decisions rejected on appeal.]

WCC – White cell count

WEMWBS – Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale

WHD – Warm Home Discount. Scheme to support people at risk of fuel poverty.

WHO – World Health Organisation

WIC – Walk in centre

WMA – World Medical Association

WRAG – Work related activity group. People who are currently too ill to work but may be able to in future so can engage in activities such as revising their CV that may help their future job prospects.

WRAP – Wellness recovery action plans

WRAP – Waste and Resources Action Programme

WRES – Workforce race equality standard

WTD – Working Time Directive. European Union rules which mean that workers don’t normally need to work more than an average of 48 hours a week unless they choose to do so.

WTE – Whole time equivalent. (i.e. converting what the part time workforce would be equal to in terms of number of full time workers). Also sometimes described as FTE – full time equivalent.


YJB – Youth justice board

YLD – Years lived with disability

YLL – Years of life lost

YOT – Youth offending team

YTD – year to date (often used in financial reports)


ZBB – zero based budgeting (building up your budget from nothing, rather than assuming the same as the previous year then making adjustments for that up or down)

ZHC’s – Zero hours contracts


Other Glossaries

Here are some other glossaries I have come across:

NHS Confederation – acronym buster. There is also an NHSacronym app for iphones or android with over 1,000 abbreviations and acronyms.

List of medical abbreviations on Wikipedia:

MedTerms Medical Dictionary on MedicineNet

The Free Dictionary by Farlex – Medical Dictionary

Acronym finder:

NICE (of terms used on their site)

Health and Social Care Information Centre (abbreviations and acronyms)

Health news glossary from NHS Choices (largely to do with research)

Royal College of Nursing (terms rather than abbreviations, not as long as some of the other lists and mainly about policy)

Health Research Authority Glossary

Glossary of health, social care and information technology

‘Think Local Act Personal’: Care and Support Jargon Buster

Socialist health association


York Health Economics Consortium: glossary of health economic terms:


Most recent update: 20/6/2024

(That’s the last time something was added, not a general review of all the content. If you find any mistakes, do please let me know)

(That’s the last time something was added, not a general review of all the content. If you find any mistakes, do please let me know)

One thought on “Glossary”

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