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'NHS Health Information Service'

As part of the implementation of the Patient's Charter all Regional Health Authorities set up a Health Information Service in April 1992 to provide general health information services to the public. These are linked through a single national freephone number (0800 66 55 44) and name (Health Information Service). Callers are automatically routed to their nearest service which provides information on:

  • Medical conditions

  • NHS Services.

  • Local and national self help and support groups.

  • Your rights as a patient, including Patient's Charter standards and how to make a complaint.

  • Maintaining and improving health.

  • Hospital waiting times.

In 1995 Department of Health guidance (HSG(95)44) emphasized the role of the HIS in supporting national health campaigns and providing information on clinical effectiveness.
From April 1996, with the abolition of Regional Health Authorities, the responsibility for providing the HIS was devolved from regions to local Health Authorities.

The Health Information Service builds on years of development of local services in several parts of the country. These centres are usually called health information services or consumer health information services. The first services were established in Stevenage (Health Information Service) and Southampton (Help for Health, now in Winchester) in the late 1970s. There are now many other local services in various stages of development and in various settings such as NHS Trusts, Health Authorities, in shopping centres, part of independent charities, NHS Ambulance Trusts.

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