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HomeUniversità e formazionePercorsi formativiIngleseL’ospedale non lasci più senza parole (Parte 1)

L’ospedale non lasci più senza parole (Parte 1)

L’ospedale non lasci più senza parole (Parte 1)

How to get by around the hospital

A short guide on how to get by around a hospital setting

Data di pubblicazione: 09 gennaio 2020

Working as an international doctor in a hospital environment where English is the main language of communication can be a bit of dauting task.

In this article we’re going to address two main points:

  • ward staff in the UK
  • places on the ward

In the next article we will address the following practices:

  • how to introduce yourself to a patient
  • how to interact with a patient during a medical examination
  • language Focus

It has to be borne in mind that the academic path to become a doctor in the UK and USA is quite different from the Italian one. Having a knowledge of the different academic paths leading to the medical profession is a key element while interacting with international doctors during conferences, seminars as well as in a work environment. If you want to more, please refer to our “How to introduce yourself” guide (“Come presentarsi”). This guide will help you introduce yourself to other medical professionals.

Ward staff in the UK


Registered Nurses hold a degree in pre-registration nursing and must also be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) before being eligible to practise. RNs undertake a nursing degree in one of four areas, namely:

  • adult nursing
  • paediatric nursing
  • learning disability nursing
  • mental health nursing


Some hospital areas are overseen by Modern Matrons, senior nurses who were brought in to oversee patient care and provide leadership for nurses on the wards. The number of matrons has witnessed a decreased over the last 15 years but are still in evidence in many private hospitals where they fulfil the role of the most senior nurse.

These days, the most senior nurses in an NHS hospital are more likely to be referred to as ‘Senior Nurses’.

Clinical Support Staff and HCAs

Clinical support staff such as Nursing Assistants and Health Care Assistants known as HCAs are not nurses, but are classified as clinical support staff. Nursing assistants are support workers who have not undertaken any training at all. Their duties are usually restricted to basic patient care, such as washing, toileting, feeding and bed making.

HCAs work alongside Registered Nurses and midwives. Whilst there is no officially required training, HCAs receive instruction in specific tasks needed for the area that they work in, e.g. assisting patients with activities of daily living known as ADLs. Many HCAs have completed a Training for the Health and Social Care Certificate, which is based around six key areas – values, safe care, supported living, communication, handling information and personal development. The training includes Infection Control, Food Safety, Manual Handling, Safeguarding and Patient Confidentiality.

Ward Clerks

Ward clerks work on most wards to free clinical staff from administration duties. They are responsible for filing, making appointments, taking phone enquiries and other administrative tasks.

Places on the Ward

Most of you will be familiar with the main ward names, such as Cardiology, ICU, Ob (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Orthopaedics, Cardiology, etc. Nevertheless, you might be unfamiliar with the words used to refer to places on the ward.


Bay Wards or units are often divided into single sex bays which contain four to six beds.
CD cupboard Drugs of addiction, known as Controlled Drugs, are kept under lock and key in the CD cupboard.
Day room Some wards have a day room where patients and visitors can sit and relax or watch television.
Ward kitchen The ward kitchen is the place where nutritional supplements are delivered.
Linen cupboard Sheets, pillowcases, blankets and hospital gowns are kept in the linen cupboard.
Side rooms Most wards have side rooms or single rooms with ensuite bathrooms where patients can be isolated in cases of infectious diseases.
Sluice The sluice is the room where dirty equipment, used bedpans and commodes are taken to be cleaned.
Staff room The staff room is a communal area which all staff use for lunch breaks or before shift commencement.
Stationary cupboard The stationery cupboard contains ward stationery such as clinical notes, clinical pathways, hospital charts, patient information leaflets, prescription and referral pads.
Stock cupboard The stock cupboard stores sterile equipment such as that used for dressings, IV cannulas, catheters and other procedures.
Store room The store room houses equipment used for patient monitoring, e.g. blood pressure monitors and ECG machines, mobility aids, such as walking frames, manual handling equipment, hoists and slide sheets.
Treatment room The treatment room is the area where aseptic procedures like catheter insertions or IV therapy can be set up.
A&E (UK) ER (US) A&E /ei n’ i:/ stands for Accident and Emergency (UK) whilst ER stands for Emergency Room in the USA.

A&E (/ei n’ i:/) is an emergency department, also known as an accident and emergency department, emergency room, emergency ward or casualty department. It is a medical treatment facility specialising in emergency medicine, the acute care of patients who present without prior appointment who come to hospital either by their own means or by that of an ambulance.

Surgery or Medical Clinic A surgery is place where a doctor, dentist, or other medical practitioner treats or advises patients. The word surgery is mostly used in British English.


Fabio Slesio

Centre Manager presso Medical English Service Network


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