NHS: new iTV channel in 2004



The UK National Health Service is set to invest £15 million (E21 million) in a three-year project for the development and launch of an interactive digital television service to enable people to order repeat prescriptions and arrange appointments with doctors.

The service, which will be called NHS Digital TV, is to be launched next year and will provide viewers with health information, an encyclopaedia of illnesses and conditions, tests, treatments and operations and self-care advice on treating common health problems.

"Providing patients with access to high quality information is crucial to developing a more responsive NHS which helps people to make informed choices about their treatment and care, and the development of the digital TV service forms a key part of the NHS Information Revolution," the NHS said in the recent publication Building on the Best: Choice, Equity and Responsiveness in the NHS.

The contract for the project has been awarded to MMTV Limited, a company specialising in interactive television applications. MMTV will be working with PA Consulting, who will provide project management and quality assurance expertise and Nomensa, who specialise in designing and testing interactive services to ensure that they are usable and accessible.

Rosie Winterton, health minister, said the service would be launched next summer on one digital platform, though the aim was to put it on as many as possible by the end of next year.

The service is going national following a series of pilot projects that found that digital TV offered access to sections of the community that health services had traditionally found hard to reach. They include low- income groups, the elderly and young men who tend to disregard health messages.