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In its latest style guide for digital health writing, the NHS advises bloggers and writers to avoid using the word ‘chemist’ when referring to a ‘pharmacy’ as users are more likely to look for the latter.

Likewise, the content guide titled ‘A to Z of NHS health writing’ encourages writers to use ‘ethnic minorities’ rather than the more commonly used abbreviated forms such as ‘BAME’ or ‘BME’.

“Use a capital letter when you’re writing about ethnicity or when you’re asking users for their ethnic group,” it advises, and therefore recommends writing ‘Black, Asian, African, Black British or Caribbean’ or ‘people from a White British background’.

In a further chapter on ‘Ethnicity, Religion and Nationality,’ it notes that a writer should “only refer to people’s ethnic heritage or religion if it’s relevant to the content.”

Likewise, when talking about skin colour, the style guide asks to use terms that are easy to understand including brown and black skin. “We do not refer to brown or black skin as ‘dark’ or ‘darker’.”

It advises not to describe people as mentally ill but use phrases such as ‘mental health condition’ or ‘mental health problems’.

To refer to people with diabetes, the guide says: “We don’t talk about people as ‘diabetic’. We say they have diabetes. We do use ‘diabetic; in phrases like ‘diabetic eye screening’.”

The NHS has produced an updated guide with commonly used words and phrases to ensure health content is readable for the general public.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee advises community pharmacy teams to refer to this guide when producing their own health content for patients and the general public.

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