Jargon buster

A guide to some of the terms used within the NHS

Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC)

An organisation which provides health care to patients and which undertakes research. An AHSC usually provides teaching and education as well.

Accident and Emergency (A&E)

The part of a hospital for anyone who has a serious injury or who needs emergency treatment. In some hospitals, this is known as the Emergency Department (ED) or casuality.

Acute care

Short term treatment for diseases or illnesses that start quickly and have painful or distressing symptoms. The term 'acute' is also used to refer to services which provide care and treatment for physical health problems.


A trained and independent person who will support you in talking to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. This could involve putting questions to them on your behalf, or making sure they understand your point of view.

Aggressive behaviour

Refers to physical or verbal aggression towards another person.

Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which describes the loss of mental abilities, such as memory and reasoning.


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder and a mental health condition. People who have anorexia have problems with eating. They are very anxious about their weight. They keep it as low as possible, by strictly controlling and limiting what they eat.


Medications that are usually used to treat psychosis. Sometimes they are used to treat other conditions.

Approved Mental Health Professional (AMPH)

Someone who has had specific training in the legal aspects of mental health assessment and treatment. AMPHs are approved by their local authority social services department to organise and carry out assessments under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).

Art Therapy

Feelings can often be more easily accessed through using imagination and creativity rather than thinking and talking. In Art Therapy sessions, you are encouraged to freely express your difficult thoughts and feelings using a variety of materials. This can help you to understand difficult feelings, and to change patterns of how you relate them to yourself, and to others. Music therapists, drama therapists and dance and movement therapists work in a similar way using other forms of expression.

Associate Hospital Managers

A group of people appointed by the Board of Directors to carry out responsibilities, as directed by the Hospital Managers, under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA).  This group of people hear appeals and review patients on a section of the MHA.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

A common neuro-developmental disorder, occurring in around 2-5% of children and characterised by inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are impairing and associated with the development of long term negative outcomes.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a behaviourally defined syndrome characterised by communication impairments, social interaction problems and unusual interest patterns and/or stereotyped behaviour. It occurs in approximately 1% of children and often gives rise to serious lifelong disabilities that cause considerable suffering and distress to individuals and their families.

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