NHS Connecting for Health is to take over responsibility for the NHS Choices portal, the government’s national patient portal for delivering patient choice and health information services.
Following the transfer, NHS Choices will become the point of access for HealthSpace, the online organiser used to give people access to their NHS Summary Care Record. It will also be the route for the public to access the electronic booking system, Choose and Book.
E-Health Insider has learned that the move comes as part of the NHS Informatics Review. Although no official announcement has yet been made the move was confirmed internally within the Department of Health and CfH last month.
The move follows the news, as first reported by E-Health Insider in May, that NHS Choices is to take over the majority of NHS Direct’s online activities, as it is built up to become the single online destination for members of the public wanting to learn more about NHS services and health information.
Launched in June 2007, NHS Choices, which is currently the subject of an £80m procurement, has to date been run directly by an arm of the DH. The decision to transfer the portal to CfH was made earlier this year. Plans for an expanded version of HealthSpace are understood to be with the Treasury.
Tony Burke, the CfH group director responsible for NHS Choices, told EHI the current £80m tender would continue to be managed by the NHS Choices Operational Board, but supported by CfH. “We’re evaluating the final bids now,” said Burke.
He said the revamped NHS Choices portal will be “more coherent for the things patients and the public want.” Burke added: “Being part of CfH allows us to develop NHS Choices more quickly.”
Gary Ashby, head of the NHS Choices programme, said the shift to CfH would help further develop the service, making it a “one stop shop” and helping develop “some of the more futuristic things we are starting to do with HealthSpace”.
Ashby said that after HealthSpace becomes part of NHS Choices patients will still have to go through a “stringent authorisation procedure” to set up and access their account. “What NHS Choices will provide is the entry point to that.”
He said the intention of the planned development of NHS Choices was “to provide people with new ways to engage people in NHS services.”
As part of the NHS Choices service, members of the public can already provide feedback on NHS services, and GPs can provide feedback.
Ashby said the services were getting a good response from the public who are signing up at the rate of about 50 a day. “People are starting to use these new kinds of services.”