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Capita gets £60m deal to merge NHS websites

Stand by for nasal congestion charges

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Capita has launched the bundled-together NHS websites - NHS Direct and NHS Choices. It was named as preferred supplier in July.

The DoH is paying £60m for three years, with an option to extend that for another two years.

The site offers information on symptoms, courtesy of NHS Direct, as well as a directory of NHS services.

NHS.uk provides medical advice, general health and fitness advice, video clips and explanations of common procedures.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "This single site will make it easier for the public to find reliable health information quickly and will give relevant and accurate advice that will help them to make their own decisions and choices about their health and healthcare."

NHS Direct has been running since 2000 and provided a website as well as phone advice from nurses. It proved a popular service with patients but has been criticised on cost grounds - answering each call costs in the region of £25, which is not very different from visiting a GP. The service gets about five million calls a year.

Criticism is likely to focus on Capita's less than glorious public sector record - it lost the London Congestion charge contract - and cost. £20m a year should buy you an awful lot of website. ®

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