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The start of the story


The Call Me because names matter concept emerged after an interaction where a young person was admitted to a hospital following an accident.  

Dr McCabe tells the story 

#CallMe came about after a clinical interaction, where I went to see a pediatric patient on a trauma list for surgery. After checking the child’s name and location on hospital systems, ward receptionist and nursing staff, a particularly cold interaction followed with the patient and mother. 

It was a crushing moment to find out at a later pre-theatre briefing that the child was living life with a different gender and name to that of birth. 

It was not an issue that our healthcare or hospital systems could cope with and was likely to be repeated throughout their stay and for any future healthcare interactions. 

I considered the fact that the child was being addressed by their birth name and being obliged to wear a name band with their birth forename. I considered the fact that this information was hidden from view on page 9 of the nursing admission notes. I considered the fact that this could happen in healthcare of all places.  

The default in healthcare is to be addressed by the recorded formal forename or perhaps the surname. It struck me that this is an assumption that can have devastating effects when wrong. 

The solution of #CallMe was born that day.” 


The size of the Issue

There are various criteria collected and used in healthcare to identify individuals – forename, middle name, surname, date of birth, NHS number, gender and ethnicity. But how that person or their loved ones see them is not by these criteria but rather how they address themselves when interacting with others.

Early #CallMe adopters in the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have completed over 150,000 #CallMe’s, directly asking how people prefer to be addressed in healthcare.  Of this number almost 30% expressed a preference for a different name to their formal forename. Over a three-month period with 7000 ambulance arrivals at the same Trust, 31.7% of these people chose or were identified by relatives, as people that chose to be addressed by a name that was not their formal forename.

Whilst there is little on the subject published, it is interesting that an Australian study (1) reported that a third of their patients preferred to be known as something other than their formal forename. This is similar to the numbers recorded in Worcestershire.

(1 Parsons SR et al. ‘Please don’t call me Mister’: patient preferences of how they are addressed and their knowledge of their treating medical team in an Australian hospital. BMJ Open 2016, Volume 6, Issue 1

The Solution

The solution is #CallMe – creating a cultural awareness of the issue and improving existing systems to facilitate storing and using correct terms of address for all to assess in a timely manner.

Firstly, by recording patients #CallMe digitally to allow them to be stored for future presentations and displayed on electronic devices when patient records are accessed.

Secondly, is an important cost neutral component where a #CallMe field is added to both name bands and stickers.

This is done in a different font and italics, kept physically separated from the other data to ensure clarity and separation from other formal identifying data used for formal identification purposes. The term #CallMe over being chosen over other suggestions such as ‘Preferred name’, ‘Known as’ etc to minimize the number of characters used to allow more space for their requested term of address.

There is no decrease in the number of identifying factors and the labelling remains regulatory compliant.

The genesis of #CallMe came to prevent this ever happening again to this child, but the implications are much wider, beyond the courtesy and warmth of just asking the question “What is your preferred term of address with us in healthcare?”.

The post-operative patient, the elderly, the confused, the patient in a resuscitation bay.

Guide to Names and Naming Practices

Whilst traditional nameboards remain above in some areas of healthcare they are unreliably completed and not universally used or practical. Compared to #CallMe, they do not follow the patient on their journey around the hospital to their exit out the front door. 

As healthcare providers, we unknowingly cause a disconnect in trust and rapport with our patients by addressing them in an unfamiliar or impersonal manner.  

This is not the way we would want our loved ones ever to be treated. 

We should get this right. Especially in hospital. 


In June 2021, with over 6 million residents in the UK having a nationality of a different country there is a significant number of people presenting to healthcare with naming conventions outside the routinely expected the comfort and respect of being addressed correctly should be an expected right rather than privilege in healthcare.

Video and Media

Arthur Henry Redburns story highlights a patients journey through healthcare showing the interactions on a patient journey and the difficulties for staff to get it right.

Thank you

  • Sam Foster
    NMC Exec Director of Professional Practice
  • Prof Brian Dolan OBE
    Director Health Service 360
  • Prof Lynda Holt
    CEO Health Service 360
  • Mark Britton
    Senior Strategic Programme Manager OUH
  • Sarah Truby
    Business Manager to Chief Nursing Officer
  • Keith Wilson
    Programme Manager NHSE/I
  • Firewood Pictures Ltd
  • Sonia Sparkles

Thank you everyone reading and sharing this