The DH have announced a 30% increase on hits to the NHS Direct website over the Christmas period, the busiest since the website was set up.
The NHS Direct site received a total of 19,344 visitors on 27 December, and 42,589 between Christmas Day and Bank Holiday Monday. The most frequently accessed pages included those offering information about colds and flu, how to deal with accidents suffered by children, and the health encyclopaedia.
Paul Jenkins, director of service development at NHS Direct, told The Guardian that the large numbers of visits and calls to NHS Direct services were not down to any lack of out-of-hours services provided to the public but that people and GP locum agencies were realising its use as an information tool.
Calls to the helpline were also up, with an increase of 6.4% from the previous year. According to nurses staffing the phones, subject matter was broadly similar to that searched for online, with the addition of people asking for information and advice about mental health.
The NHS Direct website is currently offering seasonal advice about the effects of alcohol and excess, as well as tips about keeping safe while holidaying and driving. It also contains information about where to find pharmacies and surgeries providing out-of-hours care.
Prior to Christmas, the DH launched an interactive TV version of the NHS Direct website available to Sky subscribers, which has extra multimedia such as video clips. No holiday usage figures have been released for the service as yet.
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