NHS Direct

Be prepared to give me sympathy because this week has been pretty poor for me on the health side of things; it seems that whenever I meet anyone who’s feeling the slightest bit poorly that I attract the illness like a magnet and manage to cling on to it for weeks on end!I try not to let these things get to me although it did start me thinking of the health resources that are available to us in the UK on the Internet which I’d never considered before.The most obvious website is NHS Direct (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) which is, quite obviously provided by the NHS and so we’ll focus on discussing today.

This site has many resources not only to help you with immediate illness but also to attempt to improve the way you treat your body over a longer period.To start us off, they have a complete encyclopaedia and self-help guide to a range of common ailments which you may have already had diagnosed by your doctor or ailments which you are simply curious about.This allows you to look up and check the symptoms that you are experiencing as well as gaining information on the drugs that you have been prescribed to treat the illness.One of the most concerning thing in my eyes is the ‘self-diagnosis’ section of the website; I have very bad visions that dozens of hypochondriacs will spend hours online diagnosing themselves with incorrect illnesses.

The site includes information on how to maintain your health if you are currently feeling fine.For example, they give information on good diets, managing stress and arranging immunisations.If you are concerned about a bad habit you currently have or one of a friend then there are also online fact files dealing with issues such as smoking, drinking and drugs along with advice on how to beat them.The site also offers training on what to do in a first aid situation, whether it has been bought on by drink, drugs or an existing medical problem.

Contact details for all local doctors, chemists, dentists, walk in centres and medical organisations such as St. Johns ambulance are easily accessible in case you want to change doctors, look for a pharmacy that’s open 24 hours a day or gain some basic first aid training.

One of the best features of the site is that if you have a problem that the website is unable to resolve then you are able to either e-mail a medical advisor or call NHS Direct over the phone in order to speak to a medical specialist.This obviously will have positive effects on waiting lists as it will be unnecessary for the public to arrange an appointment for a minor medical condition.

Sections are provided for those who are thinking about starting a career with the NHS as well as more detailed information for those who are already involved in the health service.These are provided in addition to links for related sites such as NHS Wales, Care Direct and the very detailed National Electronic Library for Health.

I recommend that you have a quick look at the site next time you are feeling ill or even just out of general interest but always remember that the Internet can never be a suitable replacement for a correctly trained medical advisor so if in doubt always visit your local surgery.


About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.