Welcome to our Jargon Buster!
Many acronyms and abbreviations are used to save on writing the same set of words over and over. Some have become common place and are often used instead of actual words, for example the National Health Service; now simply referred to as the “NHS”. We know many of these abbreviations, but there are also some not so widely known. We hope our Jargon Buster will help you understand the most common health, social care and government acronyms.
Do you want access to information held by public authorities?
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ensures the public have access to recorded information held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. The act does this by stating that public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities. It also states that members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.
Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. However, the act does not necessarily cover every organisation that receives public money. For example, it does not cover some charities that receive grants and certain private sector organisations that perform public functions.
Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.
Do you want access to personal information held about you?
You have the right to get a copy of the information that is held about you. This is known as a subject access request. This right of subject access means that you can make a request under the Data Protection Act to any organisation processing your personal data. You can ask the organisation you think is holding, using or sharing the personal information you want, to supply you with copies of both paper and computer records and related information.
Organisations may charge a fee of up to £10 (£2 if it is a request to a credit reference agency for information about your financial standing only). There are special rules that apply to fees for paper based health records (the maximum fee is currently £50) and education records (a sliding scale from £1 to £50 depending on the number of pages provided).
However, it is important to remember that not all personal information is covered and there are ‘exemptions’ within the act which may allow an organisation to refuse to comply with your subject access request in certain circumstances.
An alternative guide to the new NHS in England
The NHS turned 65 in 2013. In that time, the health system has undergone profound change. Watch the video below, which gives a whistle-stop tour of where the NHS is now - how the new organisations work and fit together - and explains that the new system is as much a product of politics and circumstance as design.