The NHS Direct Interactive service was launched yesterday on digital satellite by health secretary John Reid, offering 3,000 pages of content, including video clips, illustrations and photos, which can be accessed by viewers with interactive television capability.
The channel will initially be ad-free, with the government pledging a massive £15m spend on the channel over three years.
Reid said: “For the first time ever, people will be able to access NHS accredited information through their television sets.
“Some 7.5 million households have digital satellite TV, so this will be one of the biggest digital television interactive services in the world, dramatically increasing access to health information and advice through people’s televisions.”
There are also plans to roll out the service on Freeview and other cable television platforms in 2005.
An early pilots of the service suggested both men and women would use it, including significant numbers of younger women and older men, and that the service had the potential to attract poorer viewers.
The TV service adds to the established NHS Direct phone line and website services.
By Martin Hemming