The number of people using the NHS Choices website to look for information on flu is up tenfold on last year.

Figures released by the Department of Health show that from October to December 2010 more than 50,000 people used the site, which provides information on flu, colds and prevention. Last year only 3,800 people used the site over the same period.

The DH says research from the London School of Economics suggests that the number of people looking for health information online will continue to rise as people return to work after the Christmas break.

The website has seen the number of users increase from 4,237 in October to 15,965 in November and 30,375 in December.

Health minister Simon Burns said of the rises: “NHS Choices has been able to provide timely and accurate information about flu and other conditions during winter months.

"The internet is a great resource for health-related information as long as people can use sources they can trust. Those people who log onto NHS Choices are often in a better position to use health services appropriately.”

Last month, NHS Direct launched a dedicated suite of online health and symptom checkers to provide people with prompt health advice over the winter period.


The colds and flu symptom checker was the in highest demand and was used almost 59,000 times in one week.


NHS Choices has seen a decline in the number of people visiting the main site. Visits dropped from 23.5m in winter 2009 to 21m in 2010. A spokesperson for the DH said that this was because of a drop in the number of people looking for information on swine flu.