NHS patients flock online for medical advice

The winter months have seen a major rise in NHS patients going online to get health information with many people preferring the web than telephone services as a way to get medical advice, the Department of Health has announced.

Used by 11 million patients every month, the NHS Choices website saw a 56 per cent increase in visits for October to December compared to the same period in the previous year.
The department said this equated to 133,000 more visits a day, with 368,000 people using the website daily to find advice on issues like the winter vomiting bug, flu jabs, skin problems, abdominal pain and sexual health.
Web and mobile services from NHS Direct were said to be more popular than the trust’s telephone service, with around 26,000 people having used health and symptom checkers online or via a mobile app every day, compared to 12,000 people phoning for advice.
“NHS Choices is the world’s leading health website used by around 11 million patients every month,” said NHS medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh.
“Whether finding information on self care for minor ailments or the location of the nearest pharmacy, NHS Choices can help people look after themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS, enabling resources to be concentrated where they’re most needed.”
Health minister Simon Burns said the internet was an “increasingly popular source” for health advice.
“Easy and convenient online access to information, as well as over the phone, is not only hugely reassuring for patients, but also supports the NHS in delivering the best possible care during busier periods,” he said.