NHS Choices, a one-stop source of health information about conditions, treatments and hospitals designed for both patients and healthcare professionals has gone live today.

According to the Department of Health, the new website allows the public to make their own, informed choices about their health and healthcare, including booking their own appointments and choosing which hospital to received treatment at, and it provides a vehicle for patients to give immediate feedback on their experiences within the National Health Service. NHS Choices also offers a ‘trusted’ resource for voluntary sector workers, patient groups and carers to pass on information to patients not useing the internet, the DH says.

The initiative is designed to satisfy the public's growing appetite for health information in a trusted, clear and concise format while, at the same time, offering a source of authoritative and high-quality data for healthcare professionals to use.

Expert information

The site will host material from expert sources – such as NHS Direct, the Healthcare Commission and the National Electronic Library for Health and the Information Centre, as well as links to other reputable organisations - and it is hoped that it will therefore help to dispel certain treatment or condition myths and support healthcare professionals in helping the patient.

Information on the website will be presented in a variety of formats, including user-friendly printable guides to local and national services, televisual material and audio programmes. The idea is that this will "extend the reach of the information beyond those familiar with computers or the internet," and will hopefully offer new ways of tackling health inequalities, the DH explains.