Barbara has edited her final Baillière’s Nurses’ Dictionary

Barbara Weller has produced the 26th edition of a health workers dictionary. Picture: Ian Burt Barbara Weller has produced the 26th edition of a health workers dictionary. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
1:56 PM

It has been a trusted guide kept in new nurses’ pockets for decades.

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And now the dictionary penned in Dereham will be translated into Chinese and sold in Asia.

But for its editor Barbara Weller, 80, the 26th edition will be her last after more than 20 years of writing.

Ms Weller, who lives off Norwich Road in Dereham, was a nurse and first edited the Baillière’s Nurses’ Dictionary, for nurses and health care workers, in 1992 after a colourful career in paediatrics.

Her experience at Great Ormond Street Hospital, at the Department of Education finding innovative ways to recruit new nurses, in south-east Asia with the World Health Organisation and on an Aids unit during the HIV crisis gave her the wealth of experience to develop a bible for health care professionals. The book, which is sold around the world in English, is due to enter the Chinese market later this year and is created with the help of contributors from across the country.

Its evolution and the way it gains and sheds words is, according to Ms Weller, based on communication within the NHS.

To develop the dictionary takes about 18 months and depends on Ms Weller’s careful note-taking and observation of the changes to the health industry.

Ms Weller, who helped to set up the children’s nursing programme at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Jenny Lind department, said: “The sort of preparation work I do I call homework. That means talking to young nurses and patients about what words they use, and I look for different kinds of words.

“There’s a fashion for what I call NHS speak, and these changes have to be reflected in the dictionary.

“I have always been aware of words that are used, and there’s something incredibly satisfying to think you have been involved in something like this.”

When looking for definitions, the dictionary isn’t just about medical terms but also about the communication between nurses and their patients.

For example, the word “enable” is in the dictionary as of this year, which Ms Weller hopes will be a powerful tool for a nurse to give to his or her patients for them to allow them to take control of their care themselves.

Now into her 80th year, Ms Weller, whose husband is Dr Who writer David Fisher, says she is hugely proud of what she has achieved but has decided to focus on other types of writing.

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