Newest Review: ... specialist advice and of course, in an emergency, ring 999 immediately. The website has loads of great information, you can search for it ... more
I've got this embarrassing itch, nurse
Member Name: sandrabarber
Date: 16/01/02, updated on 16/01/02 (205 review reads)
Advantages: Very useful, Written by experts
Disadvantages: NOT FOR USE IN AN EMERGENCY, NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR SEEING YOUR GP
NHS Direct Online (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) is, as the name suggests, the online version of the NHS Direct service (a 24 hour nurse-led helpline covering the whole of England and Wales which can be called on 0845 4647). It's recently undergone a bit of a revamp, making it easier to use than ever.
Obviously, looking things up on the website isn't the same as speaking directly to a nurse, but this site is still really, really useful for anyone with health concerns (i.e. all of us!). Also, because it's often a long, long wait to speak to anyone if you ring up nhsdirect, the website is a very good alternative.
It is meant to be used, as the site itself says 'as the first step to help you decide the best course of action to take when you or your family are not well'. So first things first, it is NOT a substitute for seeing your GP, and is NOT AN EMERGENCY SERVICE. If you have an emergency, call 999.
The site is broken down into several sections:
1. Health Features
Meet the Chief Medical Officer, see behind the scenes at the NHS Direct call-centre (both 'vanity' sections of absolutely no interest to anyone, I'd say), and read in-depth about the 'topic of the month'. This month's topic is Organ Donation, and you can also access all past topics including Depression, Immunisation, Travel health, Screening and many more. Very useful information can be found here.
2. Healthy Living
Advice on Exercise, Smoking, Drinking, Healthy Eating and Weight Loss, Stress and more. Again interesting and useful, packed with sensible advice. Nothing groundbreaking, though.
3. About NHS Direct
Tells you about the telephone helpline and what information you will need to give to the nurse when you call so that s/he can help you.
4. Healthcare Guide
A searchable guide broken down into a Body Key (symptoms/conditions listed by the body part they'r
e affecting), a Glossary of Conditions (A-Z listing of ailments from acne to worms. Click on your trouble and get the lowdown on symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment), and a Reference Section which covers wider subjects such as Vitamins and Minerals, STDs, Puberty, Contraception).
The info in all of this is again sound, sensible and illuminating. Use it to help you manage a condition, make decisions and just feel more in control through your increased knowledge.
5. NHS A-Z
This is a password protected site for Healthcare Professionals. Not being one, I couldn't get in, but I'm sure it's very useful to them.
6. Conditions and Treatment
A searchable database of leaflets, books, links to web resources and patient support groups for a variety of conditions. Choose your body part from the asexual diagram and away you go to a wealth of other information both on and offline. Here you will find stuff about even the rarest and most weirdly-named conditions, from Congenital Ocular Motor Apraxia to Ollier's Disease to Anomalous Pulminary Venous Drainage.
This is a really meaty part of the site and invaluable to anyone who really wants to research their own condition and make contact with others in the same boat.
Other Bits and Pieces:
An FAQ section, Audioclips and links to Partner Organisations.
Using the Site:
Full marks to the designer. This site looks nice, is easy to get around and every page I looked at loaded quickly. No dead links or server/DNS errors during my hour long visit.
This site is excellent as a reference and information guide on a huge range of health issues. It's written by people who know what they're on about and is frequently updated. Again I'll repeat that it's not a substitute for your GP, or indeed for calling the NHS Direct nurses, but it's a million times better than those whopping grea
t medical books we all have at home that go out of date the minute they're published and make you think you've got every disease known to man (and some that aren't yet).
NHS Direct Online isn't perfect, but it's a very useful resource and I'd recommend adding it to your Favourites.