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The use of NHS jargon and acronyms is not only unnecessary but can create a barrier to patient and stakeholder involvement in our work.

While we are committed to promoting the use of inclusive, plain English across all of our communications and activities, it is important to provide a glossary of common terms used across the NHS.

If we use an acronym or term which you are unsure about and which is not covered in the glossary, please email us at

Accountable Officer (AO)

Responsible for ensuring that his or her organisation operates effectively, economically and with probity, makes good use of resources and keeps proper accounts. For NHS trusts, the Accountable Officer is the chief executive who is accountable to Parliament via the Department of Health and Social Care’s accounting officer (the permanent secretary). For CCGs, it is either the chief officer or the chief clinical officer who is accountable to Parliament via NHS England’s accounting officer (the chief executive). In foundation trusts, the chief executive is the accounting officer who is directly responsible to Parliament.

Accident and Emergency (A&E)

The part of a hospital for anyone who has a serious injury or who needs emergency treatment. In some hospitals, this is known as the Emergency Department (ED).

Acute care

Short-term treatment for diseases or illnesses that start quickly and have painful or distressing symptoms. The term 'acute' is also used to refer to services which provide care and treatment for physical health problems.

Agenda for Change (Afc)

The current NHS grading and pay system for NHS staff, with the exception of doctors, dentists, apprentices and some senior managers.

Allied Health Science Network (AHSN)

A network which brings together the 15 Academic Health Science Networks in England to support improvements around common themes such as patient safety.

British Dental Association (BDA)

National Association responsible for Dentists.

British Medical Association (BMA)

Professional association of doctors, which acts as a trade union, a scientific and an educational body.

Care pathway

A standard way of giving care or treatment to someone with a particular diagnosis.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is responsible for registering and regulating all providers of health and adult social care in England (including private providers). The CQC is responsible for assessing how providers use their resources. It does this in conjunction with NHS England and NHS Improvement using a jointly developed methodology.

Central Cheshire Integrated Care Partnership (CCICP)

A collaboration between Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance.

Since October 1st 2016, the partnership has delivered community health services for people in central Cheshire.

Change 4 Life

A national campaign in England and Wales to promote simple changes in order for you to eat more healthy and be more active.

Cheshire East Council (CEC)

Local authority in Cheshire East.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP)

Community services and mental health care provider across Cheshire and Wirral, including learning disability and substance misuse services. Additionally it provides various specialist services in Liverpool, Bolton, Warrington, Halton and Trafford.

Cheshire West and Chester Council

Local authority in Cheshire West.

Cheshire West Integrated Care Partnership (CWICP)

Collaboration of health and care providers in Cheshire West - Countess of Chester Hospital, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Central Cheshire Integrated Care Partnership, South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance and Primary Care Cheshire.

Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

Clinical Commissioning Groups are groups of GPs that are responsible for designing local health services in England.

Clinical Governance

A framework of processes, systems and controls that helps NHS organisations demonstrate accountability for continuously improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care.


Working more closely with GPs and their practices, neighbouring CCGs and NHS England as well as other NHS trusts and local authorities. It means CCGs have more influence over the wider NHS budget, allowing an opportunity to shift investment from hospitals to primary care and community services.


Planning and buying healthcare services.

Commissioning Support Unit (CSU)

Commissioning Support Units provide Clinical Commissioning Groups with external support, specialist skills and knowledge to support them in their role as commissioners.

Community Interest Company (CIC)

A business with primary social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.


A document which translates an organisation's statutory powers into a series of practical rules designed to protect the interests of the organisation, its staff and service users. They specify how the organisation will conduct its business.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Diseases affecting the heart or connecting arteries/veins.

Counsel for Voluntary Service (CVS)

A type of charity in England. CVSs are "the place at which local voluntary and community organisations speak to each other". They offer a wide variety of services and support for local organisations, for example training or advice on funding.

Commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN)

Payments designed to ensure that a proportion of a providers’ income is conditional on quality and innovation, linked to service improvement.


A syndrome and group of related symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities.

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

Central Government department responsible for ensuring the provision of a comprehensive health service in England through the NHS.

District General Hospital

A secondary care facility which provides a range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. While some clinics may be staffed by senior registrars in certain specialties, District General Hospitals are not regarded as teaching hospitals.

East Cheshire Hospitals Trust (ECHT)

The body responsible for managing hospital associated services in Eastern Cheshire, including Macclesfield Hospital.

Executive non-departmental public bodies

These are established by primary legislation and have their own statutory functions. Their relationship with the Department of Health and Social Care is defined in legislation. They play important roles but are not part of the Department of Health and Social Care itself.

Family Planning Clinic

A clinic that specifically deals with supplying advice on family planning and contraceptives.

Foundation Trusts (FT)

An NHS foundation trust is a semi-autonomous organisational unit within the NHS in England. They have a degree of independence from the Department of Health.

General Medical Council (GMC)

National Body which regulates Doctors.

General Practitioner (GP)

A medical practitioner who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education to patients.

Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM)

Specialist in medicine concerned with diseases and conditions, which result from sexual activity.


The system by which organisations are directed and controlled. It is concerned with how an organisation is run – how it structures itself and how it is led.

Healthcare Professional (HCP)

A health worker who may operate in a number of branches of healthcare including medicine, surgery, pharmacy, dentistry, midwifery, psychology, nursing or allied health professions. A health care professional may also be a public or community health expert.

Health Education England (HEE)

A body which provides national leadership and oversight on strategic planning and development of the health and public health workforce. It allocates education and training resources, commissioning training for healthcare staff, working through its local education and training boards.

Health inequalities

Preventable and unfair differences in health status between groups, populations or individuals. These differences can be due to many things, for example economic and environmental factors, lifestyle or access to services.

Health Service Journal (HSJ)

Weekly magazine of the Health Service.

Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBB)

Health and Wellbeing boards are a formal committee of the local authority charged with promoting greater integration and partnership between bodies from the NHS, public health and local government. They have a statutory duty, with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), to produce a joint strategic needs assessment and a joint health and wellbeing strategy for their local population.

Hospital sterilisation and disinfection unit (HSDU)

Specialises in the cleaning, decontamination and sterilisation of surgical equipment.

Health Visitor (HV)

A trained nurse who has done further training to specialise in the prevention of ill-health.

Human Resources (HR)

The management of people as employees.

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

A service dedicated to raising standards of recognition and treatment for the many people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorder.

Information Communication Technology (ICT)

Using technology to understand and be able to map the health needs of the population served. To monitor the quality, safety, costs and effectiveness of services provided.

Integrated Care System (ICS)

Groups of organisations working together to redesign care and improve population health, creating shared leadership and action to deliver the ‘triple integration’ of primary and specialist care, physical and mental health services, and health with social care.

Integrated Service Improvement Programme (ISIP)

A long-term programme of change and improvement for health and social care services, which involves people at every level of the health service working together to create improved experiences and outcomes for the people in our care.

Integrated Strategic Workforce Planning Framework

A tool that details the characteristics and processes of effective workforce planning. It enables self-assessment against typical workforce planning requirements, complements and signposts to existing workforce planning resources and provides transparency on how we review workforce plans.

Joint Funding

Where two or more agencies - for example, health and social services - agree to share the cost of running a project or service. This may make use of pooled budget arrangements.

Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)

To analyse the health needs of populations to inform and guide commissioning of health, wellbeing and social care services within local authority areas. The JSNA underpins health and wellbeing strategies.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

A measurable value that demonstrates how effectively an organisation is achieving key business objectives. Organisations use KPIs to evaluate their success at reaching targets.

Key Skills Framework (KSF)

Focuses on six core dimensions covering the key areas that apply to every job - re-written so they are shorter, simpler and easier to understand.

Lay Member

A member of a CCG’s Governing Body who is not directly employed by the organisation. They are normally appointed based on their individual skills and what they will bring to the overall composition of the governing body. Lay members are expected to challenge decisions and strategies.

Lead Commissioning

This commissioning model enables CCGs to work together so that a single multi-lateral contract is negotiated by the co-ordinating or lead commissioner with the local service provider on behalf of other CCGs.

Local Authority (LA)

The local council. Responsible for the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of their areas.

Local Enhanced Service (LES)

Extra services provided by a local GP practice.

Local Education and Training Board (LETB)

The 13 regional structures in the health education and training system of the NHS in England, established as part of NHS reforms in April 2013. They are statutory committees of Health Education England.

Local Medical Committee (LMC)

Professional organisations representing individual GPs and GP practices as a whole to the Primary Care Organisation.


The agreement between NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department for Health and Social Care that sets out the expenditure limits for NHS England and NHS Improvement and what is expected to be delivered with the funding provided.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to several widely-used antibiotics. This means infections with MRSA can be harder to treat than other bacterial infections.

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (MCHfT)

The body responsible for managing hospital services at Leighton hospital, Crewe and Victoria Infirmary, Northwich and associated services in South Cheshire.

Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT)

A group of professionals from one or more clinical disciplines who together make decisions regarding recommended treatment of individual patients.

National Commissioning Board (NCB)

The NHS Commissioning Board provides national leadership for quality improvement through commissioning. It helps standardise best practice through commissioning guidelines, designing model contracts, tariff and financial incentive models and involving users.

National Health Service (NHS)

England's publicly funded healthcare system.

NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA)

Provides many central services to NHS organisations, directly to patients and the general public.

These include:

  • Making payments to dentists and pharmacists
  • Providing help with health costs such as prescription charges and dental costs
  • Managing the NHS pension scheme
  • Managing the electronic staff records (ESR) programme.

NHS Counter Fraud Authority

Established on November 1st 2017, the Counter Fraud Authority is charged with identifying, investigating and preventing fraud and other economic crime within the NHS and the wider health group.

NHS Digital

The body that collects, analyses and publishes data and information relating to health and social care. It also supports the delivery of IT infrastructure, information systems and standards to ensure information flows efficiently and securely across the health and social care system to improve patient outcomes.

NHS England / Improvement (NHSE/I)

Oversees the budget, planning, delivery and day-to-day operation of the commissioning side of the NHS in England as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. It holds the contracts for GPs and NHS dentists and oversees foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.

NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA)

Manages negligence and other claims against the NHS in England on behalf of its member organisations.

NHS Leadership Academy (NLA)

Work with partners to deliver excellent leadership across the NHS to have a direct impact on patient care.

NHS Resolution

Handles negligence claims and works to improve risk management practices in the NHS.

NHS RightCare

Part of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s financial sustainability programme, NHS RightCare is focused on increasing value for patients by reducing clinical and financial variation in how healthcare services are delivered.

NHS Standard Contract

The contract used for agreements between commissioners and providers of NHS-funded care. A standard framework is produced each year by NHS England and NHS Improvement, which is then added to locally.


A unit of the Department of Health and Social Care aimed at delivering the largest digital health and social care transformation programme in the world.

NHS 111

The non-emergency number.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)

An independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

A virtual body funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the health of the nation through research.

Non-Executive Director (NED)

A member of a trust or foundation trust board not directly employed by the organisation. For trusts they are appointed by NHS Improvement. Foundation trusts appoint them through their own nominations committee.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS)

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides a 24 hour, 365 days a year emergency service to those people in need of emergency medical treatment in the North West. They also provide a non-emergency service known as the Patient Transport Service.

Organisation Development (OD)

Modernisation and change within the NHS.

Out of Hours (OOH)

Arrangements to provide access to healthcare at times when General Practices are closed - in the evening, at weekends, on Bank Holidays and sometimes if the practice is closed for educational sessions.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

A service to help patients through any difficulties with their medical treatment.

Patient Participation Group (PPG)

A group of patients set up within each GP Practice to ensure patients are involved in decisions about the range and quality of services within the practice.

Payment by Results (PbR)

The tariff-based payment system that has transformed the way funding flows around the NHS in England.

Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)

Medical imaging technology which provides economical storage and convenient access to images. Electronic images and reports are transmitted digitally via PACS.

Primary Care

The first point of contact in the health care system. For the NHS, this is healthcare from GPs, Practice Nurses, NHS-walk-in centres, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.

Primary Care Network (PCN)

GP practices working together with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas. PCNs typically serve populations of between 30,000 and 50,000 people.

Professional Research and Development Unit (PRDU)

The work the NHS conducts toward the innovation, introduction and improvement of its products and procedures.

Quality Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP)

About ensuring that each pound spent is used to bring maximum benefit and quality of care to patients. QIPP is a large-scale transformational programme for the NHS, involving all NHS staff, clinicians, patients and the voluntary sector.

Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)

A system for the performance management and payment of GPs in the NHS in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

National Body for Nurses.

Secondary Care

Healthcare that people receive in hospital. It may be unplanned emergency care or surgery, or planned specialist medical care or surgery. If you go to hospital for planned medical care or surgery, this will usually be because your GP, or another primary care health professional, has referred you to a specialist. This care can also be known as acute.

Senior Management Team

A team of individuals at the highest level of management in the NHS.

Serious Untoward Incident

An event or omission arising during clinical care causing physical or psychological injury to a patient (e.g. treatment error, drug error, equipment failure).

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A commitment between a service provider and a client.

Whole Time Equivalent (WTE)

A unit that indicates the workload of an employed person (or student) in a way that makes workloads or class loads comparable across various contexts.