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Cut the crap: an alternative glossary of NHS jargon

Cut the crap: an alternative glossary of NHS jargon
By Léa Legraien Reporter
25 June 2018

If you’ve ever felt perplexed by NHS parlance, we’re here to help. Léa Legraien unravels healthcare’s most hideous buzzwords in our Cut the crap series.

As if understanding the way our healthcare system works isn’t complicated and taxing enough, deciphering NHS jargon only makes things worse.

Modern matron, whole system approach and co-production are just a few examples of the numerous health and social care terms that might make people lose their minds.

Here at Healthcare Leader, we’ve decided it’s time to stop jargonising the way we talk about health and start cutting the crap.

We took five NHS buzzword definitions and tried to squeeze some sense out of them.


Key to irritation

Useful idea, stupid name

Just annoying

Please stop using


1 GP federations and GP networks

DEFINITION According to the British Medical Association (BMA), GP networks have many names including federations, collaborations, joint venture and alliances.

It’s not that we’re against synonyms but why complicate things when life is already tough enough?

The BMA defines GP networks as ‘multiple practices coming together in some form of collaboration’.

CUTTING THE CRAP Although the terms federation and network are used interchangeably, the former seems to be slightly more formal than the latter, which is more flexible and fluid, depending on the area.

IS IT USEFUL? Yes but why have five synonyms. Make up your mind and just use one word!


2 Allied Health Professionals (AHPs)

DEFINITION AHPs work in partnership with NHS trusts across the country. There are 14 degree level professions that are recognised by NHS England, of which 13 are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Among them, we find dietitian, art therapist and physiotherapist.

According to NHS England: ‘AHPs provide system-wide care to assess [and] treat, diagnose and discharge patients across social care, housing, education, and independent and voluntary sectors.’

CUTTING THE CRAP In plain terms, AHP are healthcare professionals who are not doctors, nurses or pharmacists

IS IT USEFUL? To be honest, we are not entirely sure about the relevance of ‘allied’. It might be useful in times of war but in the NHS, we’re not convinced it’s necessary.


3 Broker

DEFINITION Not to worry reader, in an NHS context is not synonymous with ‘dealer’ or ‘trafficker’ – at least not that we are aware of.

A broker, also known as a care navigator, is provided by local councils, voluntary organisations and private companies. It’s a person whose job is to help patients find out which healthcare services are available in their area and how much they cost.

CUTTING THE CRAP One word: Adviser. Simple as that.

IS IT USEFUL? Enough of the abundance of synonyms, stick to care navigator please.


4 Person-centred care

DEFINITION As the name implies, person-centred care refers to care that puts the person at the centre of the way care is planned and delivered. Sounds legit.

It denotes care that focuses on the person’s needs, preferences and priorities.

CUTTING THE CRAP We would argue that care should always be centred around the needs of the person rather than the needs of the service. This approach to care implies that there should be “no decision about me without me”.

IS IT USEFUL? The concept yes, the word no.


5 Light-touch assessment

DEFINITION According statutory guidance to the Care Act 2014, local authorities can sometimes decide to treat a person requiring care and support as if a financial assessment had already been carried out.

This ‘light-touch’ assessment can only take place if the beneficiary can prove they will be able to pay any charges due.

CUTTING THE CRAP Sounds very much like a financial assessment, right?

IS IT USEFUL? Only if you are sensitive.


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