NHS 24 channel takes the drama out of health advice

New service may eventually allow patients to book GP appointments
New service may eventually allow patients to book GP appointments
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it MIGHT not offer the same drama and excitement as Casualty or Holby City, but NHS 24 has launched a new digital TV channel to allow patients to get health information and advice from their armchairs.

And eventually it could be used to book appointments with GPs and order repeat prescriptions.

The channel, available through Freesat, Sky and Virgin, gives people who don’t have the internet at home easier access to health advice and information on local services. An app for iPhones, iPads and android smartphones also gives access to the digital service.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “We want to ensure that more people in Scotland can access health information and advice where and when they need it, particularly those who need it most.

“Many Scots, including those living in our more deprived communities and older people, do not have access to the internet at home. Now they can access this information, quickly and easily through their televisions.

“We are piloting booking GP appointments and looking at whether repeat prescriptions can be ordered in future. It is now possible to check on your alcohol intake through your remote and soon a full health check may be available.”

The channel offers information from NHS 24, NHS inform and Care Information Scotland web services.

Lynne Huckerby, NHS 24’s head of health information services, said: “Although in a digital age, many people access their information through the web and with their phones these days, around 39 per cent of the Scottish population do not have access to the internet.

“However, more than three million people in Scotland now have access to digital television and it is vital that we are able to broaden our reach to as many people as possible.

“The ability to get good quality health information is a right that everyone should have and, by investing in this new service, we hope that we are opening up access to even more people.”

The channel can now be accessed through Freesat and Sky (community channel 539) and Virgin Media (home button, interactive number 7) The BBC’s new YouView service is being considered for the future.

So far, the cost of the new digital channel and the development of apps for smartphone and iPad totals £171,000. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This is good value for a service covering the whole of Scotland.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com