Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled plans for a new one-stop-shop NHS website that will allow patients to seek help for less serious health problems online, as part of a package of measures designed to improve digital services.

The new online triage service - an expansion of the existing NHS 111 non-emergency phone line service - will enable patients to enter their symptoms on the website and get tailored advice or a call back from a healthcare professional.

The government said the service, which is expected to go live by the end of next year, is being developed with leading clinicians and will be piloted before the public can use it.

Also planned is a library of NHS assessed apps, as well as advice on other wearable devices, to ensure people can select reputable and effective products to monitor and improve their health.

The NHS Choices website is to be relaunched as NHS.UK with a wider range of online patient services, including the ability to register with a GP, see and book appointments, and order and track prescriptions.

The new site will also enable patients to securely download their personal health records, giving them instant access to important healthcare information, such as prescriptions and test results.

"We have only just begun to achieve the true transformational change and deliver the real benefits that digital technologies can bring to doctors, nurses, social workers, patients and the public," noted NHS Digital Chief Executive Andy Williams, applauding the plans.

Global exemplars
The Department for Health also announced the 12 new "global exemplars" tasked with pioneering best practice in health technology and a new academy dedicated to training NHS staff in digital skills.

The 12 successful NHS organisations will each get up to £10 million to help them deliver pioneering approaches to digital services and help others throughout the service to learn from their experience.

Alongside investment in technology and infrastructure, the funding will be used to improve training for staff and encourage a new generation of chief clinical information officers to drive forward advances in digital technology, the DH said.

"Bob Wachter's excellent review made it clear that digitisation is as much about people as it is technology, and that this is a real opportunity to improve patient care for the long term. We want to fast track existing digital excellence, as well as nurture new skills and expertise that we will need to deliver a new breed of digitised services," noted Hunt.