Confed17: NHS Choices a ‘fabulous but disconnected resource’

“Choices is a fabulous resource, but it was always disconnected from what people needed it to do,” Public Health England’s Director of Health Improvement, John Newton, told delegates at Confed17 yesterday

Revamped NHS Choices platform will include bigger focus on social care information despite statistics showing only 1% use it for this purpose

[Liverpool, UK] Public Health England’s Director of Health Improvement, John Newton, explained yesterday at Confed17 the decision to transform the NHS Choices website was underpinned by the need to improve levels of self-care and prevention across the country.

Professor Newton, who is also currently Deputy Chair of the National Information Board, said: “Choices is a fabulous resource, but it was always disconnected from what people needed it to do.”

In September, the platform will be transformed to NHS.UK, which has already been launched in a beta version to test pages and gather feedback; the revamped platform is also expected to provide access to Personal Health Records.

Only 1% use NHS Choices for social care information

Professor Newton said the new website will include a ‘transactional element’, with a ‘huge amount of work’ currently being carried out ahead of the launch.

He added: “It might be worth pointing out that only 1% of the use of Choices was people asking about social care, but we know that people do not have good access to information on social care.”

Professor Newton said a ‘discovery process’ is currently being conducted to understand exactly what resources would be needed to develop accurate ‘directories of services’, along with a social care taxonomy, which he explained is ‘surprisingly important’.

Regarding his role with Public Health England, Professor Newton added: “We want to be a digital organisation and that is fundamentally difficult and requires strong leadership and a certain amount of disruption.”