Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms
Director, Socialist Health Association,
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This glossary was devised in Manchester, and has a regional
bias, but jargon in the rest of the UK is not very
different, and I have tried to include Scottish, Irish,
and Welsh terms. I am only trying to cover acronyms.
Helpful people who suggest I should include all sorts
of other terms devised to confuse, mystify or impress
the lay reader of official documents have clearly
not comprehended the enormity of the problem.
These are mostly terms
which are discussed by managers and politicians (usually
because they cost money) or which you may find included
in medical notes. Some doctors charge a fee for explaining
your notes to you, but I hope this glossary will help
you understand for free. If you are looking for information
about a medical condition you might like to try UK
Self Help, which has a very good list of helpful
organisations, mostly run by people with personal
experience of the condition. They are also very helpful
in understanding exactly what people mean when they
use unfamiliar words.
It would be better if
people spell out exactly what they mean, at least
the first time round, but they don't, so I hope this
list will help. If you are on the receiving end of
documents supposedly produced for the public or for
users of services please complain if they are incomprehensible.
Managers can get help
if they can't manage this feat unaided.
Some of the explanations
in the glossary are a bit quick and dirty, so may
give an inaccurate picture, particularly of complex
organisations. And some are doctors slang or offensive
- or both - but you may find them in your notes
so I make no apology for including them. And a few
are internet terms, but they get everywhere these
You can find other glossaries
on the Internet. This one is designed for lay people
involved with the British National Health Service
and welfare state. Most of the others are designed
for professionals. Acronyms And Initialisms
For Health Information Resources compiled by Marie-Lise
Shams is the most impressive multilingual list. The
National Electronic Library for
Health has an good page of dictionaries of various
sorts. Acronym Corner at
Nottingham University, covers medical education acronyms.
Online Glossaries & Resources has links to
hundreds of glossaries in ten different European languages.
has a searchable database of 40,000 medical entries.
has 1702 glossaries listed in 242 Categories, and
claims to have 186,000 entries in its database. So
this one is pretty modest by comparison.
In case you are wondering,
I am not a doctor, I am not trying to sell anything,
and I am not recording anything about your visit to
this site. If you have suggestions for additions,
repairs, or improvements please email me, Martin
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