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Jargon Buster

The NHS is sadly full of jargons, acronyms and generally confusing words! This is where we hope to make clear some of the terms and phrases you might have heard or seen on the website. 

Acute Services                    

Medical/Surgical Treatment

Advance Directive or (advance statement)

This is a way of making views known prior to the event, that a person may become unable to make informed decisions though mental illness.


Advocacy organisations provide support services to enable a persons interests to be represented by an advocate.

Assertive Outreach Team (AOT)

The Assertive Outreach Team provides intensive treatment and support in the community for persons between the ages of 18 – 65 who have a history of persistent mental disorder.

British Medical Association (BMA)              

The Professional Association for Doctors

British National Formulary (BNF)     

Defined list of prescribable treatments

Caldicott Standards     

The set of guidelines that ensure a patients details are regulated within the NHS.

Care Programme Approach (CPA)

Forming part of the Government’s National Service Framework for Mental Health, this allows mental health teams to work together ensuring the needs of patients are fully considered.


Usually unpaid and often a relative or friend who offers support and care for a person within their home.

Community Access and Support Services (CASS) 

An agency providing Domiciliary Care to service users with learning disabilities or mental health issues. The services are part of the Social Care Directorate.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy        

A form of psychotherapy which may, following assessment be used in the treatment of persons with depression, anxiety, phobias and other mental health disorders.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)                                      

Community Care

Care for a person that is provided for outside of a hospital environment.

Community Access and Support Services (CASS)  

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)  

A team consisting of nurses, doctors, social workers and psychologists who provide care for a person outside of a hospital environment.

Crisis Resolution at Home Treatment (CR/HT)                      

An integrated mental health team set up to provide effective assessment and treatments within the home.

Department of Health        

The government Department who provide policy on social care.

Disability Discrimination Act         

The two acts of parliament enforcing the rights of disabled people: The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (amended Dec 2006) and The Disability Rights Commission Act (DRC) 1999.

Disability Rights Commission (DRC)            

Set up in 2000 this Act sought to eradicate the discrimination of disable people.

Dual Diagnosis                   

Commonly used to describe a person with psychotic illness, aswel as using drugs or alcohol.

Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP)             

Teams specialising in early intervention of psychosis, working with 14- to 35-year-olds who have experiences of psychosis.

Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT)                     

Is a treatment for a small number of severe mental illnesses and works by passing an electrical current through the brain. Used in treatments for depression.

Expert Patient Programme

An NHS-based training programme aimed at improving a persons quality of life through developing self management skills. This is offered to people with chronic long term illnesses.

Freedom of Information(FOI)                                      

The Freedom of Information Act gives the general public the right, to obtain information held by the  public sector.

General Practitioner (GP)                                       

A medical practitioner or doctor, who provides primary care in the community, and specializes in family medicine.

Healthcare Commission (HCC)                                    

An independent government watchdog, that reviews the quality and safety of health services provided in England and Wales.

Health Action Plan             

A health action plan can teach a person with learning disabilities about the things they can do to be healthy and how to get help.

Holistic Approach               

The holistic approach takes into account a persons physical, mental and social factors rather than just the diagnosed disease, and can be applied to a variety of treatments.


A person who has been admitted to hospital.

Research and Development SecondaryCare     

Specialist care provided after referral, commonly within the hospital environment.

Learning Disability (LD)     

Not to be confused with Learning Difficulties, which includes such conditions as dyslexia.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)                                   

The national organisation that develops industry-wide guidance on patient protection.

National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE)               

 The NIMHE is responsible for the implementation of positive change within the mental health services.

National Service Frameworks (NSF)             

NSFs are strategies that have been developed to improve specific care areas over a long period of time.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)                   

OCD is a serious anxiety-related condition that affects 1 in 50 people. Feelings of extreme shame and embarrassment are also associated with the condition.

Occupational Therapy       

Working with individuals, families and groups to assist in maintaining health and well-being through engagement or re-engagement in employment.


A person who attends hospital but does not stay overnight.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)     

PALS provide confidential advice and support for anyone who may have questions and concerns about the different NHS services.

Person Centred Plan (PCP)                                    

The government white paper valuing people (2001) describes the strategy for learning disability for the 21st century. It includes the opportunity for everyone with an LD to have a PCP, which focuses on the individual rather than the disability, and encompasses such concepts as, inclusion,  citizenship and looks at how the individual wants to live their life and how to achieve this.

Primary Care Trust  (PCT)                                     

NHS Foundation Trusts, or foundation hospitals, are a new type of NHS trust in England and have been created so local organisations and communities can take charge of the care local people receive.

Senior House Officer         

Once qualified a doctor may hold this post excepting total responsibility for patient care in a particular branch of medicine.

Specialist Register              

A doctor in the process of receiving specialist training.

Service Level Agreements (SLA)              

An agreement between organisations on how services will be provided and monitored.

Service User                        

A person who uses the services of the Hampshire Partnership Trust.

World Health Organisation (WHO)           

The World Health Organisation makes recommendations for improving health globally, based on national representatives consensus.

Still confused?

Not sure what something means? Heard some NHS jargon that's left you confused? Let us know!

If you've heard a term or word that you don't understand - then let us know! We'd love to add to our jargon buster to help make sure we're explaining the words, terms and phrases you really need to know about.

Email us or call us on 023 8087 4390