NHS Direct Online explores partnerships with other health organisations

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:568
  1. Lynn Eaton
  1. London

    Since it was set up in 1998, NHS Direct has been, by all accounts, a success. The telephone helpline handles 7.5 million calls a year. Even the National Audit Office said earlier this year that it had achieved high patient satisfaction and had a good safety record.

    But there are other less high profile ways of accessing information from NHS Direct—including digital television, touch screen machines in shopping centres, and its website, NHS Direct Online. It online site (, first launched in 1999,was relaunched in November last year and in January 2002 alone had 250,000 visitors.

    With the government trumpeting NHS Direct, it is vital that the information it gives out, both on the phone and through its other portals, is accurate, up to date, and appropriate. The recent publicity when a young baby died after NHS Direct staff failed to pick up meningitis showed that such a high profile service cannot afford to get things wrong.

    Bob Gann, chief executive on NHS Direct Online, is only too well aware of the importance of information. It has been his business. He started out as a medical librarian before moving into patient information and becomes passionate as he talks about empowering patients by giving them good quality information—not just on the website but across the whole of NHS Direct.

    An …

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