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Report questions millions spent on NHS.crap

4,121 websites cost £86m

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

An internal report into the state of NHS websites found thousands of sites that were all but impossible for the public to find, badly designed when they did find them and irrelevant to their needs.

The Department of Health's digital communications review managed to find 4,121 separate websites but 1,000 were no longer accessible. The report was circulated internally in June but has now been leaked.

About a third of the sites failed to meet accessibility or content standards. Half the sites had no email addresses listed.

GP surgery websites were the worst of the bunch, although layers of management websites for primary care trusts and health authorities had no discernible function for the public and the report questioned why they were even created.

The document was leaked to the Health Services Journal, but its website is subscriber-only, so have a look at what the trade mag gave to the Guardian.

The report estimates maintenance costs for the websites to be about £86m. This excludes design and start-up costs.

It found the public wanted one primary NHS presence online. But even the most recognised NHS sites - NHS Direct and NHS Choices - confused the public by presenting two places to go for information.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it understood the need for clear information and that an information strategy review in the autumn would set out how it intends to achieve this. ®

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