The government has taken a step further in its drive to help empower patients to make well-informed choices about their healthcare, by seeking an independent body to vet the quality of health and social care information on offer.

The Department of Health announced yesterday that is has opened the floor to independent bidders that wish to operate the new seal of approval scheme, which is basically designed to help patients easily identify information that is reliable and from a bona fide source.

According to the DH the scheme, which is due to roll out in the summer of next year, is designed to have a broad reach so that a new quality stamp can be applied to a wide range of health information sources, such as leaflets and websites.

“Ensuring that patients have access to reliable information is paramount in maintaining patient choice and quality of care,” said Ann Keen, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Services. “This scheme and the quality mark will help reassure people that health information available to them is trustworthy,” she added.

The move slots in nicely with Lord Darzi’s vision for the National Health Service, which puts a strong emphasis on boosting patient power through the provision of greater choice and more control over their own healthcare.