The Information Standard accreditation scheme has been launched at the King’s Fund.

The Department of Health initiative will award a quality mark to organisations that meet set criteria for producing safe and reliable health and social care information and advice. Organisations will be able to display the mark on their website or literature.

The DH says the aim of the scheme is to ensure that members of the public are supported in making decisions about their health, by being able to see information that is certified as trustworthy.

Health minister Ann Keen said: “As we open up real choice in healthcare, it is vital that patients are able to recognise high quality information that they can trust. The Information Standard will make a real difference to those needing health and social care information to help them make informed choices.”

In April 2009, Capita was appointed to operate the scheme. The contract, which is believed to be worth £3m-£6.5m, makes Capita responsible for promoting the scheme, providing support to members and authorising certification bodies to assess scheme applicants and offer certification against the standard.

However, the organisational process for creating information will be assessed, rather than individual pieces of information.

There are more than 50,000 organisations that provide health and social care information in England. Thirty-six are already working towards certification.

Angela Coulter, an independent healthcare analyst who advised on the scheme, said: “Those organistaions that are able to display The Information Standard Mark will immediately be able to differentiate themselves from competitors, as producing high quality information that people can rely upon.

“The rigorous certification standard will help raise information production standards and inspire confidence in organisations that they are performing to the highest standards.”

Link: DH information about the Information Standard