Glossary of terms

Understanding NHS terms and acronyms

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

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

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

 Abbreviation Name Meaning

Integrated Care System


An Integrated Care System (ICS) brings together the NHS organisations, councils and wider partners in a defined geographical area to deliver more joined up approaches to improving health and care outcomes.

There are 42 ICSs in England, including Cheshire and Merseyside, which is one of the largest in the country.

Within each ICS there is an Integrated Care Board and an Integrated Care Partnership. 


Integrated Care Board


Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) will be established as new statutory organisations to lead integration within the NHS. The Cheshire and Merseyside ICB will have a unitary board and minimum requirements for board membership will be set in legislation.

The Integrated Care Board will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside, including planning and buying healthcare services.

The current functions of Cheshire and Merseyside’s nine clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will transfer to the Integrated Care Board by 1 July 2022, following their closure. 


Integrated Care Partnership


The Integrated Care Partnership will provide a forum for NHS leaders and local authorities to come together as equal partners, alongside important stakeholders from across Cheshire and Merseyside.

Together, the ICP will generate an integrated care strategy to improve health and care outcomes and experiences for the people in Cheshire and Merseyside, for which all partners will be accountable.


  Place-based Partnerships


The Cheshire and Merseyside ICB will arrange for some of its functions to be delivered, and decisions about NHS funding to be made, in the region’s nine borough places – through Place-based Partnerships.

The ICB will remain accountable for NHS resources deployed at borough place level. Each ICB will set out the role of designated place-based leaders within its governance arrangements.

  Provider Collaboratives


There are two separate Provider Collaboratives for Cheshire and Merseyside:

  • The Cheshire and Merseyside Acute and Specialist Trusts (CMAST)
  • Mental Health, Community, Learning Disability collaborative (MHLDSC)

Both will agree specific objectives with the ICB to contribute to the delivery of Cheshire and Merseyside’s strategic priorities and are committed to working together to support the delivery of benefits of scale and mutual aid across multiple places or systems. 

  Neighbourhood Within each ‘place’ there are several neighbourhoods, which cover a smaller population size of roughly 30,000 to 50,000 people. They often focus on integrating primary, community and social care through multidisciplinary teams and joint working arrangements. Neighbourhoods are therefore key to the NHS’s commitment to deliver more care as close to home as possible.
  Acute care Acute care providers are emergency services and general medical and surgical treatment for acute disorders rather than long-term residential are for chronic illness
A&E Accident and Emergency Often used to refer to the emergency care department in a hospital. 
AHPs 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 a 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. 
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 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 belong to a CCG, but CCGs also include other health professionals, such as nurses. 


Citizen’s Panel


A Citizens’ Panel is a large, demographically representative group of citizens regularly used to assess public preferences and opinions. 
CQC Care Quality Commission The Care Quality Commission monitors, inspects and regulates health and social care services. They then publish their findings, including ratings, to help people choose care.
ED Emergency Department Used interchangeably for Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
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. 
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 FTs 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 a patient’s home or within other settings, such as health centres 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 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.
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.
  Lived experience 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.
LRF Local Resilience Forum LRFs are multiagency partnerships made up of representatives from local public services, including the emergency services, local authorities, 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 was published in 2019 setting out key ambitions for the service over the next 10 years.
MHLT Mental Health Liaison Team MHLTs are often multidisciplinary teams that provide mental health assessments to patients or new people presenting with mental health problems.
NHSEI NHS England and Improvement NHSEI 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.
NIHP National Institute for Health Protection NIHP has a single command structure to advance the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It brings together Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace, as well as the analytical capability of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) under a single leadership team. This is the first step towards becoming a single organisation, focused on tackling Covid-19 and protecting the nation’s health.
PHE Public Health England PHE was 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.

In 2021, Public Health England was disbanded and the component parts mixed with other agencies to make two new organisations:

  • National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) – see description above.
  • UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – see description below.


  Primary care Primary care is the first point of contact for healthcare for most people. It is mainly provided by GPs (general practitioners), but community pharmacists, opticians, dentists and other community services are also primary healthcare providers.
PCN Primary Care Network A PCN brings together a group of local GP practices with other primary and community care organisations to join up health and care services at neighbourhood level. They were established in July 2020 to help stabilise general practice by using economies of scale, overcome barriers between primary and community services, and develop population health approaches. 
  Population health The collection of patient data across multiple health information technology systems. This data is then analysed into a single, actionable patient record. Care providers can improve both clinical and financial outcomes using this data.
SCT Social Care Trust An organisation in the NHS which provides health and care support. Working closely with local authorities, SCTs may carry out a range of services, including social care, mental health services and primary care support.
  Secondary care


This means being taken care of by someone who has particular expertise in whatever problem a patient is having. It’s where most people go when they have a health problem that can’t be dealt with in primary care because it needs more specialised knowledge, skill or equipment than the GP has.

It’s often provided in a hospital. The GP will decide what kind of specialist the patient needs to see and contact them on the patient’s behalf to get them an appointment – this is called a ‘referral’.


Transformation 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 which service is needed, NHS111 can help to assess and direct to the appropriate service/s.

UKHSA UK Health Security Agency The nation’s new public health body focused on health protection and security. The agency builds on the legacy of Public Health England, NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to help keep the nation safe.

UKHSA is an integral part of the public health system and the national security infrastructure. The immediate priority of UKHSA is to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. UKHSA will play a critical role in the route to developing vaccines effective against new and emerging variants. In the longer term, UKHSA will build on the infrastructure developed for Covid-19 to tackle and prevent other infectious diseases and external health threats.

VCFSE Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise Sector There are thousands of voluntary sector organisations working across Cheshire and Merseyside. These are valued members of the partnership with a shared ambition to be an equal partner within the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership.


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. It aims to improve the (equal) access to career opportunities and fair treatment in the workplace among employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.


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