Headlines: June 29th, 2001

Fifty thousand people are going to be able to consult NHS Direct by television this summer.As part of a pilot digital TV project, they will be able to book appointments with their GPs, access general and local health information, and even speak to NHS Direct nurses on screen.

The exercise is part of the five million pound Living Health Project in the West Midlands. It is testing the potential of digital television as a means of improving access to NHS information and services, a key aim of the NHS Plan.

The Living Health project will run for six months, and independent evaluators will monitor and examine the scheme. None of the pilots will involve charges or costs to customers.

The new GP Appointments service is being piloted in three GP Practices. It will enable patients who are registered with the practice to select an appointment with a GP or a Practice nurse through their Digital TV.

The appointment service will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will list available appointment times and will automatically send through details to the surgery. To ensure confidentiality patients will be identified by a pre-selected PIN code rather than by name and address.