NHS jargon and acronyms explained

The NHS sometimes uses jargon and acronyms that can be difficult to make sense of. We've found a selection of reliable resources that explain, in plain English, many of the terms that you may see used in NHS correspondence, online, or in the media.
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If you or a loved one is receiving NHS care, you're likely to have received some correspondence containing important information, such as details of a specific treatment that is needed or what steps you need to take going forward.

Most of us are familiar with acronyms such as 'A&E' and 'GP', and words such as 'pandemic'. But sometimes, other words or phrases crop up that can be much harder to understand. Typing a word or phrase that you don't recognise into a search engine can often produce multiple - and sometimes contradictory - results.

The official NHS website recommends two resources that offer explanations of common jargon in plain English, to help you access the information you need quickly. One is the NHS Confederation Acronym Buster, where you can quickly search by letter if there's an acronym you don't understand. For example, if you want to know what PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) stands for, you can select the letter 'P' at the top.

The second is the Think Local Act Personal Jargon Buster. Again, you can select the letter the word starts with at the top of the page, then scroll down to find a definition.

Think Local Act Personal have also put together a COVID-19 jargon buster, which you can download below.


TLAP COVID-19 explainer

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