The NHS website is committed to the highest editorial and ethical standards in the provision of all its content and related services.
The site is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. The content, data and services on the NHS website are commissioned by NHS England and delivered by NHS Digital.
The NHS website is committed to providing objective and trustworthy information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare.
The overall NHS website content policy covers all content, both data-driven – directories and comparative data – and editorial. The latter includes written content, video and audio resources, interactive tools and images.
In all instances, we strive to ensure that data is accurate and clearly presented and that editorial content meets users' needs, is clinically safe and evidence-based – in other words, that it is founded on the best scientific knowledge and research currently available.
All clinical content on the NHS website is checked and approved by an appropriately qualified and experienced member of our internal clinical team. For specialist content, we may consult practising doctors or other external subject matter experts.
The following sections set out our editorial principles, standards and processes.
Content on the NHS website will be accurate, balanced and transparent. Information given will be based on the best available scientific evidence and data sources. Where content contains conjecture or opinion, this will be clearly indicated.
Impartiality and diversity of opinion
The NHS website will be objective, impartial and even-handed. Where views differ and no scientific consensus can be found it will reflect all significant strands of opinion and state the uncertainty clearly.
The NHS website is accountable to its users and will deal fairly with them. It will be open in admitting mistakes and encourages a culture of learning through user feedback. Its editorial processes will be transparent.
Serving the public
The NHS website will put its users' interests first when sourcing and developing content. It will consult widely with relevant professional bodies, patient organisations, charities and other interest groups but meeting users' needs will remain paramount.
Taste and decency
All content on the NHS website will be suitable for a general audience and will not include material that might reasonably be deemed offensive. Where content includes explicit sexual information it will be clearly flagged.
The NHS website views its users' privacy as paramount. Find out more about privacy on the NHS website.
The NHS website is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. It does not carry advertising and does not accept corporate sponsorship.
Staff interests and independence
The NHS website has a dedicated content team. It has a clear mandate to produce accurate, balanced and transparent information that meets the needs of users.
No member of staff will be asked, or is permitted, to provide favoured treatment to any partner organisation, and all staff must fully disclose any financial or other interests they may have in any healthcare-related companies or organisations. Such interests must be reported to the site's Content Director at the time of employment or at the point the interests arise thereafter.
The Content Director will report any potential conflict of interest to the Programme's Director and the Programme's Clinical Lead who will determine what needs to be done to eliminate it. Where content is produced by outside organisations or individuals, NHS.UK requires that such agents make a similar disclosure of outside interests.
All content team members are given training to ensure editorial standards are met. Specifically, they are trained to search for and review high-quality evidence to make sure that content is factually and clinically accurate.
The Programme's Clinical Lead, reporting to NHS Digital's Chief Medical Officers, is accountable for making sure the content we publish has a clear evidence base, is clinically safe, meets users' needs and supports the NHS.
The Content Director is accountable for the maintenance of general editorial standards, in particular for making sure that content meets the Standard for creating health content (in the NHS digital service manual).
The evidence-based knowledge that informs all NHS.UK content is derived from:
- user research with patients and the public
- the most authoritative clinical sources
- direct experience of clinicians and other health professionals
In pulling together this knowledge to provide users with a rounded and balanced package of material on a particular subject, the NHS website requires its staff and contractors to consult the following resources.
For peer-reviewed scientific research, they consult reputable sources of clinical evidence, such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS).
Where knowledge of direct experience is required, they consult:
- patients and members of the public who may be affected by a topic or issue
- practising doctors and other clinicians with direct and current experience in dealing with or treating the health issue under investigation
- medical royal colleges
- national charities with a recognised expertise and specialist interest
- patient organisations
Resources used in the development of content are available on request. You can contact us through the NHS website.
New content or major changes are checked by a senior and experienced member of staff. They are checked for:
Before any content containing clinical information is published on the NHS website, 1 or more clinicians must confirm that it is accurate, clinically safe and reflects relevant evidence.
|Type of content||Approved by|
|All clinical information||A member of the internal (NHS Digital) clinical team|
|New content, major changes, videos and images||2 members of the internal clinical team|
|Content about public health emergencies or fast-changing public health policy where the internal clinical team identifies a potential clinical, system-wide or reputational impact||NHS Digital's Chief Medical Officer or someone they delegate to|
Content may also be read and approved by other appropriately qualified and experienced clinicians (and the internal clinical team may require that it is) but final clinical sign-off is provided by the internal clinical team.
Prior to publication, if there is a relevant policy, content must also be read by an appropriate policy official, either at the Department of Health and Social Care or NHS England, who checks it for alignment with that policy.
Final editorial checks
Final content is then checked for:
- common factual errors
- adherence to house style
Review of content
Editorial content on the NHS website is reviewed systematically. All editorial content is reviewed at least every 3 years.
Evidence updates to published content, as well as feedback from users and stakeholders, are considered on a day-by-day basis as they arrive, and content is reviewed and amended immediately if necessary.
Publication dates are displayed on all content.
New content in development
We are developing various new content products that are tested with the public before they go live. We signpost to users that these are prototypes and not final products. Not all the provisions of this policy apply to content in development.
The NHS website welcomes feedback on all its content. You can contact us through the NHS website.
Your feedback or complaint will be sent to our Service Desk team. The team will pass it to the appropriate content team member or clinician. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved by a member of the team responsible for the NHS website, it will be escalated under NHS Digital's complaints procedure.
Page last reviewed: 14 October 2022
Next review due: 14 October 2025