Winter bugs keep NHS website busy

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The number of patients going online for health information has rocketed by more than 50 per cent this winter, new research shows.

There were 368,000 visits a day to the NHS Choices website from October to the end of December, compared with 235,000 visits during the same period of 2010.

Visits to the site now average just under 11 million a month, compared with 6.8 million last year.

Health minister Simon Burns said: “Easy and convenient online access to information, as well as over the phone, is not only hugely reassuring for patients but also supports the NHS in delivering the best possible care during busier periods.”

Concerns about norovirus have driven up visits to pages on the winter vomiting bug by almost 46,000 this year. There were 116,085 visits recorded between October and the end of December, compared with 70,347 over the same period last year.

NHS Direct web services are proving more popular with patients that its telephone option. Around 26,000 people use the health and symptom checkers everyday online or via the mobile phone application, compared with 12,000 calling for advice.