Understanding NHS terms and acronyms

In order to make this website as accessible as possible, we've tried to ensure that all abbreviated terms, sector-specific language and jargon is not used or is fully explained where unavoidable.  

We have provides a glossary of frequently used terms and abbreviations used on this website below.

If you have any suggestions of how we can improve the langauge on this website please contact us.

You may also find the right-hand links useful. 

Abbreviation/term Word Meaning
ICS Integrated Care System

ICSs are partnerships that bring together providers and commissioners of NHS services, across a geographical area with local authorities and other local partners, to collectively plan and integrate care to meet the needs of their population
- Kings Fund, 2020

SYB South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw The term often used to refer to the Integrated Care System in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw.
A&E Accident and Emergency Often used to refer to the emergency care department in a hospital.
ACP Accountable Care Partnership ACPs are alliances of NHS providers which seek to work together to deliver care through collaboration with providers including hospitals, mental health services and GP practices among others. Some ACPs may extend to social care and independent and third sector providers as well.
ACS Accountable Care System Term used previously to describe Integrated Care Systems, in which ACS' take the lead in planning and commissioning care for their populations and providing system leadership. 
AHP Allied Health Professionals

AHPs provide system-wide care to assess, treat, diagnose and discharge patients across social care, housing, education, and independent and voluntary sectors.  Through adopting an holistic approach to healthcare, AHPs are able to help manage patients’ care throughout the life course from birth to palliative care.  Their focus is on prevention and improvement of health and wellbeing to maximise the potential for individuals to live full and active lives within their family circles, social networks, education/training and the workplace.

- NHS England, 2020

BME / BAME Black Minority Ethnic / Black and Minority Ethnic

Terms widely used by NHS, government departments, public bodies, the media and others when referring to ethnic minority groups.

CCG Clinical Commissioning Group

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible.

Commissioning involves deciding what services are needed for diverse local populations, and ensuring that they are provided.

CCGs are assured by NHS England, which retains responsibility for commissioning primary care services such as GP and dental services, as well as some specialised hospital services. Many GP services are now co-commissioned with CCGs.

All GP practices now belong to a CCG, but CCGs also include other health professionals, such as nurses.

Services CCGs commission include:

  • most planned hospital care
  • rehabilitative care
  • urgent and emergency care (including out-of-hours)
  • most community health services
  • mental health and learning disability services.

- NHS England, 2020

CP Citizen's Panel

A Citizens' Panel is a large, demographically representative group of citizens regularly used to assess public preferences and opinions. 

- Involve.org

EDI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion The NHS has an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Framework which has been developed to address existing health inequalities in compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
ED Emergency Department  Used interchangeably for Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
EPR Electronic Patient Record EPR is a high-tech electronic patient record system which aims to modernise and improve the way patient information is transferred and delivered across NHS Trusts to provide better patient care.
FT Foundation Trust NHS FT's are a different type of NHS organisation with a stronger local influence.

Foundation trust hospitals are still part of the NHS and continue to treat patients according to NHS principles of free healthcare according to need.

GP General Practitioner GPs provide ongoing medical care for patients in the community and are typically a patient's first point of contact. GPs will most likely see patients in their surgery, at patients home or within other settings such as health centres and/or care homes.
HASU Hyper Acute Stroke Unit

HASUs bring together stroke experts and specialist stroke equipment under a single venue to provide world-class treatment - 24 hours a day. HASUs aim to significantly reducing death rates and long-term disability from strokes.

Healthwatch n/a The independent national champion for people who use health and social care services, using feedback from communities to find out what matters to people, and help make sure their views shape the support they need.
HEG Health Executive Group HEG is a formal committee consisting of health and care leaders from across NHS organisations to discuss key matters around finance, operational delivery (including capacity and performance) and new initiatives and developments on the horizon. 
HWB Health Wellbeing Board

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.
- Kings Fund, 2020

ICP Integrated Care Pathway ICPs are structured multidisciplinary care plans which outline key steps in the care of patients with a specific clinical problem. 
JC CCG Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups

JCCCG committee meetings will be responsible for making decisions about any future proposals referred to it by Clincial Commissioning Groups. Decisions will be referred to this committee if they require a South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw (SYB) approach, but most decisions about healthcare will continue to be taken locally.

The committee is held in public and chaired independently of the health organisations.

The JCCCG consists of GPs and lay members from each of the Clinical Commissioning Groups in SYB. Chief Executives from councils, representatives from district Councils and local Healthwatch also attend the meetings.

Lived experience n/a Personal knowledge about the world gained through direct, first-hand involvement in everyday events rather than through representations constructed by other people. It may also refer to knowledge of people gained from direct face-to-face interaction rather than through a technological medium.
- Oxford Reference, 2021
LRF Local Resilience Forum

LRFs are multi-agency partnerships made up of representatives from local public services, including the emergency services, local authorities, the NHS, the Environment Agency and others. These agencies are known as 'Category 1 Responders', as defined by the Civil Contingencies Act.

LTP NHS Long-Term-Plan

The NHS LTP (formerly known as the 10-year plan) was published setting out key ambitions for the service over the next 10 years
- Kings Fund, 2020

MHLT Mental Health Liaison Team MHLT's are often Multi-Disciplinary Teams that provide mental health assessments to patients or new presenting people with mental health problems.
NHS E/I NHS England and NHS Improvement NHS E/I is a non-departmental body in England, responsible for overseeing the NHS' foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers that provide NHS-funded care.
Partners / partnerships n/a A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as business or working partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.
PHE Public Health England PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, and a distinct organisation with operational autonomy providing government, local government, the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support.
Primary Care  

Primary care services provide the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the ‘front door’ of the NHS. Primary care includes general practice, community pharmacy, dental, and optometry (eye health) services. 

- NHS England

PCN Primary Care Network

Primary care networks (PCNs) enable general practices to work together at scale leading to coordinated approaches around locality practices - including improving the ability of practices to recruit and retain staff; to manage financial and estates pressures; to provide a wider range of services to patients and to more easily integrate with the wider health and care system. 

SCT Social Care Trust An organisation in the NHS that provides health and care support. Working closely with local authorities, SCT's may carry out a range of services, including social care, mental health services and primary care support.
STP Sustainability Transformation Partnership

STP stands for Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. These are areas covering all of England, where local NHS organisations and councils drew up shared proposals to improve health and care in the areas they serve.

STPs were created to bring local health and care leaders together to plan around the long-term needs of local communities. They have been making simple, practical improvements like making it easier to see a GP, speeding up cancer diagnosis and offering help faster to people with mental ill health

In some area, STPs have evolved to become ‘integrated care systems’, a new form of even closer collaboration between the NHS and local councils. The NHS Long Term Plan set out the aim that every part of England will be covered by an integrated care system by 2021, replacing STPs but building on their good work to date.

- NHS England, 2020

Transformation n/a Means a change of form - used to mean rapid or dramatic change within a health and care setting
UEC Urgent and Emergency Care

UEC services perform a critical role in keeping the population healthy. Both urgent and emergency care services play a specific part in supporting patients to receive the right care, by the right person, as quickly as possible.  To help relieve pressure on A&E departments and to ensure patients get the right care, it is important to understand the difference between urgent and emergency care

  • Emergency: Life threatening illnesses or accidents which require immediate, intensive treatment. Services that should be accessed in an emergency include ambulance (via 999) and emergency departments.
  • Urgent: An illness or injury that requires urgent attention but is not a life-threatening situation. Urgent care services include a phone consultation through the NHS111 Clinical Assessment Service, pharmacy advice, out-of-hours GP appointments, and/or referral to an urgent treatment centre (UTC). If unsure what service is needed, NHS111 can help to assess and direct to the appropriate service/s.

With increasing pressure on emergency services, and as technology and the needs of the population change, the UEC system must also change to ensure a service fit for the future. 


Workforce Race Equality Standard

Implementing the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is a requirement for NHS commissioners and NHS healthcare providers including independent organisations, through the NHS standard contract as part of aims to improve the (equal) access to career opportunities and fair treatment in the workplace among employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.


Are we missing any?

Please contact us with your suggestions