Patients will be taught how to code and make apps as part of a patient empowerment programme being run by the NHS Commissioning Board.

National director of patients and information Tim Kelsey has previously called on clinicians to learn how to program.

In an NHS Institute webinar, he said that involving patients was key to the health care revolution.

In the monthly webinar ‘Expert on Call’, he explained that the government was putting in place several measures to empower patients. These included promising everybody electronic access to their primary care records by March 2015, NHS 111 and introducing the friends and family test.

Kelsey said learning to code was another type of participation and the NHS CB would soon publish guidance on how they were going to approach this.

“We’re launching something called Code4Health, available for patients and clinicians, which will teach people quickly how to code and make programs and apps,” he said.

The initiative would encourage both patients and healthcare professionals to reset their thinking about the power of data and information.

He recognised that not all patients would have adequate computer literacy to take advantage of the new services being made available.

“I’m very much about inclusion. However there will be a large number of people who will find it difficult to participate. So we are launching a health advantages programme,” he said.

The programme would help those who needed it with understanding their online records and other electronic services available to them.

“What we’re looking to do is turn the NHS into a social movement,” said Kelsey.

He added that the principles of transparency and participation were key factors in making the new health service work.

“If we can liberate the data and give it to people, that’s what we want to do. If we can make the data more freely available we will transform the way in which services is provided.

"We need to learn how we can unleash the power of transparency,” he said.

“A 21st century health service is about prioritising knowledge. It’s all about sensible, mature conversations where everyone shares the same currency. The currency is open data.”

Code4Health is modelled on the US CodeforAmerica initiative, which encourages public sector workers to learn to code.