The NHS has announced it will work with the likes of Google and Twitter to help the public get easy access to accurate NHS information about coronavirus, in order to avoid myths and misinformation.
This will include Google pointing people to verified NHS guidance first when someone types in ‘coronavirus treatments’ or ‘coronavirus symptoms’.
Twitter will also help suspend false accounts posing as hospitals and putting out inaccurate information about the number of coronavirus cases; and publicly condemn homeopaths promoting false treatments.
The NHS is also working with Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to verify or ‘blue tick’ over 800 accounts belonging to NHS organisations including hospital trusts and local commissioning groups.
Tara Donnelly, chief digital officer at NHSX, said: “One of NHSX’s key missions is to ensure that the public are provided with accurate health information so they can be confident they are following official NHS advice.
“By making NHS website content free to use for third party organisations, we are ensuring that more people get NHS advice when they search online rather than from one of the many other sources; some with guidance that isn’t right for the UK, and some that just aren’t right.”
In the coming days and weeks, both Twitter and Facebook will also start directing users to the NHS website if they search for coronavirus.
Whilst the NHS website contains the most accurate information for the public about coronavirus, for people worried they might have the virus, the health service has started directing them to NHS 111 online to support the national phone line after a surge in calls.
The NHS 111 online service has dealt with more than a million enquiries relating to coronavirus since it was updated for last month.
Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at NHS Digital, added: “Getting the right health information to the public is essential, particularly during outbreaks of disease. Syndication from the NHS website means that people can be confident that the information they see meets the highest clinical standards.
“The more we can share accurate information, the less likelihood there is of inaccuracy and rumour, which could put people at risk.”