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DoH and NHS England join forces to develop vision for NHS.UK

A Department of Health (DOH) and NHS England cross-department team looks to revamp NHS Choices to improve digital access to health services

The Department of Health (DOH) and NHS England have put together a team to develop a vision for NHS.UK, a website intended to become a “digital hub” for accessing health services.

Over the next 12 weeks, a team – formed from NHS England, Department of Health, HSCIC and NHS Choices – will map out what people think about the way they deal with the health and care system. The information will be used to find gaps and develop online information and services.

NHS.UK is the upgraded version of the well-known NHS Choices. The aim is for the website to become an information directory encompassing several services, including the NHS electronic prescription service, social care services, an online version of NHS 111, e-referrals and the NHS health apps library.

The online version of NHS 111 began testing earlier this year and forms part of plans to integrate the non-emergency service with the website – as set out in the Personalised Health and Care Framework 2020.

The NHS.UK project team will prototype different solutions for the service, based on feedback from users, and creating a detailed plan on how to realise them.

It will also come up with a plan on standards and guidance “to help other teams to build great digital services on NHS.UK”.

“We’ve tried to learn lessons from digital transformation projects across health and care and other public services,” Helen Rowntree, NHS England’s head of digital services and Adam Bye, DH deputy director for digital, said in a blog post.

She said the process will be led by user needs from the public and health professionals.

The blog post said 49% of UK adults use the internet to access health information. NHS Choices received around 27 million unique visits each month.

“But dig deeper and you find information and services are often not joined up across a host of – around 3,000 – NHS sites, many services could be improved and many things can’t be done online at all, such as (universally) registering with a GP,” she said.

“We could do a lot more to provide information and services that are simpler, clearer and better.”

After the initial 12 weeks, work will continue to consult with users on how to best put the “vision” into practice. 

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