Using the online services

The NHS Direct service is here to provide you with help and support whenever you need health advice and information.  We’re here 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

As well as the 0845 4647 telephone service, we offer a range of interactive online tools, known as health and symptom checkers, which you can use to assess your symptoms online and then receive personalised clinical advice on the best course of action, whenever you need it.

How to use the NHS Direct website service

The website can be used in three different ways:

1. Search for your symptoms

Image of the 'What are your symptoms?' search boxType your symptom/s into the ‘What are your symptoms?’ search box on the homepage

This will return a search of our online health and symptoms checkers first.

If you can’t find what you need, you can expand the search to take in all of the NHS Direct website and NHS Choices .

To expand your search, tick “all” in the 'Filter results by:' field.

2. Go to the Check your symptoms page

Alternatively, on the Check your symptoms page you can browse common symptoms and conditions in alphabetical order, or click on the body map tab and select the part of your body about which you need advice.

You will then be directed to the most relevant online health and symptom checker, or self help guide, for your needs.

3. Send a health enquiry

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the website, or if you require advice on long term conditions or medicines, you can send us a health enquiry.

In addition, the 0845 4647 phone service is open 24-hours a day.

We would recommend you call us if you have further concerns, or if your symptoms get worse

About our online health and symptoms checkers

Our health and symptom checkers allow you to access personalised health advice online. You will be asked a series of interactive questions about your problem and then we’ll advise you on the best course of action.

If you’re feeling unwell at the time of your call, you may be told how you can look after yourself at home, or we may recommend seeing a pharmacist (chemist).

The online health and symptom checkers are designed so that you can request a call back from a nurse online, if your symptoms need further assessment. We’ll even tell you how long you can expect to wait for the call.

If it’s something more serious, you may be advised to see another health professional, such as your doctor. If the problem is very serious, we can help you to access the ambulance service.

Whatever the problem, we’re here to give you the help and reassurance you need.

About the life threat questions

The first questions in the online health and symptom checkers assess symptoms of serious, potentially life-threatening conditions which would require urgent care.

These are called our life-threat questions. If you answer "yes" to any of these questions you could potentially have a very serious medical condition.

The life-threat questions are designed to find out if you have symptoms of a heart attack, meningitis or a stroke. All of which require immediate medical attention.

These questions are not meant to alarm you. However, we have to ask these questions, to ensure that anyone who does visit the website for advice on what could be a life-threatening condition is given the right advice immediately.


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Send an enquiry to our information team about NHS services, medicines, named health conditions and treatments.

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Content supplied by NHS Choices