We give you the full A to Z of terminology fo rthe health services
Accident and emergency (A&E): departments of a hospital that deal with people who need emergency treatment because of sudden illness or injury. Also called casualty or emergency department.
Acute care: hospital-based medical and surgical treatment.
Acute trust: NHS body providing medical and surgical services from one or more hospitals.
Allied health professionals (AHP): NHS staff offering clinical care who are not doctors or nurses, eg radiologists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
Ambulance service: a service that responds to 999 calls and major incidents, urgent admission requests from doctors, and high-dependency and urgent transfers between hospitals.
BBV: blood-borne virus, ie a virus that is carried in the bloodstream.
Bed blocking: patient in a hospital bed who should be discharged from the hospital either to their own home or to another care setting.
Booking management service (BMS): part of the choose and book service that lets you change, cancel and book hospital appointments, once you’ve been referred by your GP.
Caldicott guardian: a person who has responsibility for policies that safeguard the confidentiality of patient information.
Care home: residential home providing accommodation with nursing and personal care.
Care package: after an assessment, this is agreed so the patient can receive the right care for their needs – which may include social care.
Care pathway: guidelines for the entire process of diagnosis, treatment and aftercare for medical conditions – from the patient’s first contact with the hospital to the end of their treatment.
Care plans: written agreements setting out how care will be provided.
Care professional: anyone involved in providing healthcare or social care.
Care programme approach (CPA): coordinated care for people who use specialist mental health services.
Carer: friend or relative looking after a person who is ill, disabled or elderly.
CHD: coronary heart disease.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO): the Government’s principal adviser on health and the professional lead for all medical staff in England.
Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS): services provided for children and young people with emotional, behavioural and mental health needs.
Choose and Book: method of booking hospital appointments once you have been referred by your GP. You can choose any hospital and the date and time of your appointment. The idea is to book online, although you may have to phone the hospital if they are not connected to the Choose and Book system.
Clinician: a general term used to refer to any professional who provides clinical care to a patient.
Clinical negligence: breach of duty by a healthcare professional.
Community care: social care or treatment given to patients outside hospital.
Community health services: Services provided outside a hospital, eg by district nurses, health visitors and community midwives.
Continuing care: a person’s care needs after hospital treatment has finished.
Chief nursing officer (CNO): the Government’s most senior nursing adviser, responsible for delivering nursing strategy in England.
CVD: cardiovascular disease, ie diseases of the heart (cardiac muscle) or blood vessels (vasculature).
Day care: social support provided in a centre.
Day case admission: taken into hospital for treatment that doesn’t need an overnight stay.
District nurse: registered nurse trained to provide nursing care to people in their own homes.
Elective admission: patient admitted to hospital from the waiting list for treatment.
Emergency admission: patient admitted to hospital at short notice because of clinical need.
Elective operation: operation booked in advance.
ENT: ear, nose and throat.
Episode: period of a disease or treatment with a definite start and finish.
EPR: electronic patient record.
Expert patient programme: for patients who, with support, can take the lead in managing their own long-term conditions such as diabetes or arthritis.
Family planning clinic (FPC): a clinic that offers free confidential advice and information on contraception and sexual health. Some may also offer specialist services such as abortion and rape counselling.
General practitioner (GP): doctor who works in a local surgery or health centre, providing medical advice and treatment to patients registered on their list.
GUM: genitourinary medicine. Also called sexual or reproductive health.
GUM clinic: hospital department that deals with sexual health with doctors who specialise in this area. May also be called sexual health centre.
Health visitor: a trained nurse who has done further training to specialise in the prevention of ill health, particularly for children.
Hospital consultant: senior clinician based in a hospital.
ICU: intensive care unit – where very seriously ill patients are looked after in a hospital.
Inpatient: patient who has been admitted to hospital for an overnight stay or longer period of time.
IV: intravenous – treatment is administered by injection into a vein.
MMR: measles, mumps and rubella – refers to the vaccination given for all three diseases.
Modern matron: trained nurse who leads the ward, raises standards of clinical care and helps nurses to undertake a greater range of clinical tasks.
Multi-agency: services involving staff drawn from several organisations such as health, social services, education and voluntary groups.
Optician/Optometrist: specialist health professionals who test eyes and prescribe lenses to correct sight problems.
Outpatient: patient attending hospital for a consultation, advice or treatment, but not staying overnight.
PALS: Patient Advice and Liaison Service – equivalent of customer services.
Patient record: record of a patient’s care and treatment (may be electronic).
Pharmacists: specialist health professionals who prepare and sell medicines.
Primary care: services provided in the community by family doctors, dentists, pharmacists, opticians, district nurses and health visitors.
Rapid response team: provides emergency care at home.
Respite care: provides an opportunity for a carer to have a break; the person being cared for may spend time in a residential home.
RTA: road traffic accident.
Secondary care: specialist care traditionally provided by hospitals in support of the primary care team. Examples are surgery, specialist medical services and mental health services.
Service user: patient.
Social care: non-medical care provided outside the h to help vulnerable people such as the sick and elderly to live their lives as fully as possible.
Social services: non-clinical support and care services provided by local councils, voluntary organisations and private organisations.
Stakeholder: person or organisation with a direct interest in a service or practice.
Tertiary care: complex or specialist care provided in a regional or national centre, eg for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
Waiting list: people waiting to be admitted to a hospital as an inpatient.
Walk-in centre: walk-in medical centre offers fast access to health advice and treatment, mainly from nurses. They are open to anyone and you don’t have to make an appointment.
AUTHOR: Pamela Brooks