NHS Choices - a new web-based, one-stop-source of information for patients, the public and healthcare professionals - is on track for a launch in June.

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.

In a recent letter to sent to Professional Executive Committee Chairs, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Chair, Clinical Advisory Group, NHS Choices, said that the service will “break new ground using interactive and multi-media technology to reach the vast majority of patients, not just those who are most internet-aware.”

“When NHS Choices is launched in June, you will see the first version of what can become one of the most useful health websites in the world,” Prof Keough wrote. But he went on to stress that its full potential “can only be realised if the site continues to develop with input and feedback from clinicians.”

Expert material

Because it will use material from expert sources - including nhs.uk, NHS Direct, the Healthcare Commission, the National Electronic Library for Health and the Information Centre, as well as links to other reputable organisations - it is hoped that NHS Choices will help to dispel potentially damaging treatment or condition myths, modify unrealistic expectations and support clinicians in helping the patient, the Department of Health says.

Material on the website will be available 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.