Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms Free glossaries at translation jobs
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Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms

By Martin Rathfelder,
Director, Socialist Health Association,
Manchester, UK


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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 days.

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. Medical Online Glossaries & Resources has links to hundreds of glossaries in ten different European languages. Pharma-lexicon has a searchable database of 40,000 medical entries. Allglossary has 1702 glossaries listed in 242 Categories, and Acronym Finder 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 Rathfelder.

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