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NHS launches online kiosks

Healthcare comes direct to the people in a new government initiative
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

The National Health Service launches online kiosks Wednesday as part of the government's commitment to making government services electronic and bridging the digital divide.

Initially 153 kiosks will be installed in public places around Britain, including supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals and sixth form colleges. Liverpool's refurbished Albert Docks and the Dover ferry terminal will also get kiosks. They will all be in place by the end of the year.

The kiosks are intended to allow people who are not connected to the Internet to access information on the government's flagship NHS Direct Web site. The site currently gets over 100,000 hits a day. The touch screen terminals are also seen as an important step in the ongoing plans to modernise the NHS. Another 350 kiosks will be installed by 2004.

Health minister Gisela Stuart believes the kiosks will be integral in educating the public about health issues. "Patients are the most important people in the health service and I'm determined that the NHS is shaped around the convenience and concerns of patients. The new NHS Direct information points will give the public greater information about how they can look after their own health and about health services," she says in a statement.

The government also plans to target popular holiday destinations to ensure tourists get quick access to basic health information.

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