NHS Glossary in the Guardian

NHS jargonA link on Twitter last week took me to a glossary in the Guardian of healthcare jargon and acronyms. I read through a number of entries and thought it looked like a useful resource of NHS-specific terms for medical translators so I quickly retweeted it. But I was too hasty: the article is dated August 2011 and in the last two years the organisation and information structures of the NHS have undergone big changes.

If I’d run through the checklist in my blog series on Separating the Wheat from the Chaff I wouldn’t have been so quick to retweet the Guardian glossary. Here’s why:

Source: The article was published in the Guardian, not by the NHS itself. However, it was in the Healthcare Professionals Network, a section with interesting articles written for healthcare professional readers.

Date: It was published in August 2011. Red flag here: the article ends with a clear “last revised 30 August 2011” notice.

References: There are reliable links to NHS websites and elsewhere, but some links take you to the deprecated Connecting for Health website and others to Smarthealthcare, previously owned by the Guardian and now an “unknown domain”.

Quality: The glossary entries appear to be accurate, but a few comments mentioning that changes are imminent set alarm bells ringing.

Usability: You could add it to IntelliWebSearch, but is it worth it? And, of course, it’s not multilingual (now, there’s a big localisation challenge for someone).

So why has this glossary gone out of date so fast? There have been some major changes in the NHS since 2011:

  • In September 2011, the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) was scrapped, with IT development being devolved to a local level. Some parts of the programme were retained, notably the Spine, which contains patients’ Summary Care Records (SCR) with current medication, allergies and adverse drug reactions.
  • The Health and Social Care Act was passed in 2012. With this, Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) and Primary Care Trusts (PCT) were replaced by Local Authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups.
  • In March 2013, information management development switched from Connecting for Health to the Health & Social Care Information Centre. HealthSpace and the Informatics Directorate were dismantled.

On the plus side, I reckon over half the terms are still in use. So it’s good for brushing up on some abbreviations and learning new ones:

  • EPS: Electronic Prescription Service
  • PACS: Picture Archiving and Communication System
  • PALS: Patient Advice and Liaison Services
  • PHCSG: Primary Health Care Specialist Group (in primary care informatics)
  • QIPP: Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention

WarningEven the out-of-date terms may still be useful when translating texts that date back a couple of years. After all, they do come up in British health economics texts, so a NHS-specific list of 70-odd terms and abbreviations could come in handy. But, in general, I would advise medical translators to use this resource with caution.

Watch what you tweet and share out there!

This entry was posted in Medical, Terminology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NHS Glossary in the Guardian

  1. Like you since I started tweeting I’ve learnt to always check the date of articles before sharing. When I do share an article more than a few months old I try and always mention the date in my Tweet.

  2. Great idea to mention the date in a Tweet, Catharine. I hadn’t thought of that before!

Comments are closed.