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Finding information on the DH website

Who this site is for, what it contains, and how it is structured

Question

Who is this site for?

Answer

This site is intended to enable NHS and social care professionals to find information about policy and to receive guidance and advice on best practice.

Information and advice for the public on health and social care services and topics is available on NHS Choices and DirectGov.

Individual NHS organisations and agencies have their own separate websites.  

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What’s on the site and how is it structured?

Answer

The purple bar at the top of each page shows the main subdivisions on the site. There are sections on policy and guidance relating to health care, social care and public health topics, and on managing NHS organisations, together with publications (including statistics), news and information on current health campaigns, and corporate information about the Department and how it is managed.

The policy and guidance sections are intended to present the overall picture of current policy and guidance on their particular topics, with links to relevant publications, supporting documentation and other websites.

The publications relevant to the topic are kept and indexed in the Publications section, where they will remain as a permanent archive when they are no longer linked from the policy section as current policy. The Publications section currently contains publications from 1999 (with some earlier ones).

At the top right of each page are further links on other functional and supporting topics, such as the site map, freedom of information, FAQs and how to contact the Department.

Each of these top-level sections is in turn further subdivided into sections on more detailed topics, which will be shown in the left-hand menu within those sections. This structure is also reflected in:
1) the crumbtrail immediately above the main title of the page, e.g.: You are here: Home >> Health care >> National Service Frameworks >> Coronary heart disease. This example shows that the CHD section is located in the National Service Frameworks area of the Health care main section.
2) the URL: for example, the URL follows a sequence like the crumbtrail:
www.dh.gov.uk/en/Healthcare/NationalServiceFrameworks/
Coronaryheartdisease/index.htm

Within in each section, detailed content is kept on  secondary pages, which will have an individual content ID number created by our content management system.

At the bottom of each page are links to information on the website itself, such as terms and conditions, our privacy policy, help with different features of the website, and accessibility tips and features, together with our copyright statement.

Browsing and indexes

Question

Can I use the URL to locate a specific page on the site?

Answer

If you know the exact URL of the page you wish to find, you can copy and paste it into the address field of your browser to take you directly to the specific web page.

However, you will not be able to find a page by entering its content ID number into the search engine (the ID number is not part of the displayed text of pages, which is all that the search engine looks for).

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How do I use the site structure to browse to a policy section?

Answer

If you are not sure where the topic you are looking for fits into the structure outlined above, the site map (linked from the top right of every page) gives a brief outline of the content of each section and links directly to the major subsections.

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Are there indexes to the site?

Answer

The A-Z site index (link at the top right of each page) is an alphabetical listing of key DH policy areas, topics and sections of the site (i.e., it is not a complete index of everything on the site).

Within the publications section, the various subsections act as indexes to different series of publications such as bulletins, letters and circulars and annual reports. There are also dedicated indexes to categories of publications not in a named or numbered series, for example “Popular leaflets”.

Searching the site

Question

How does the search engine work?

Answer

The search engine gives a relevance score to each page it finds with the word(s) you enter as your search terms. The more terms you provide, the better your results will be: for example, using a combination of words such as ‘priorities and planning framework’ will give better results than searching for 'planning' alone.

Please also see below about using the advanced search to search for phrases, by date or by site section, and other ways of refining your search.

Question

How do I search for a phrase?

Answer

In the basic search, the search engine looks in turn for any of the words in your phrase (an “or” search), rather than for all of them together (an “and” search). If you want to specify a search for all words in a phrase, or for the exact phrase, please use the relevant options on the advanced search page.

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Is the search engine case sensitive?

Answer

No. You can type your search query in lower case, upper case or a combination of both and it will not affect your search results.

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What is the basic search?

Answer

This is the search using the box at the top-right of every page. Enter your search terms (words that are likely to appear in the page you are looking for) and click on the "Go" to the right of the search box.

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What is the advanced search?

Answer

This is on a separate page, reached from the link to the right of the “Go” button beside the basic search box. It offers you a range of options to refine your search and make it more specific.

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Can I search for results within a site section?

Answer

Yes:  when you submit a search you will see a panel in the left hand side of the screen headed, "Matches found in these sections". This tells you that your search results can be found in different areas or sections of the website. You can select results from one or more of the categories and by clicking on one of these headings you can further drill down to see exactly what results are found in a specific area of the site.

You can also search within specific libraries for publications and letters, or consultations, or bulletins, or press releases (to July 2006)

On the advanced search page, you can also specify some main subsections of the site to be searched.

Bear in mind that the publications and consultations areas are permanent archives: to focus on more recent and current material, it may be more time-effective to look at the relevant policy section.

Please also bear in mind that we have, in effect, two sites, the main DH site (www.dh.gov.uk/en) and one for our advisory bodies (www.dh.gov.uk/ab). Searches on the main DH site will also find relevant results in the advisory bodies site, which will also be shown in the left-hand column under the different sections of the advisory bodies site: but if you carry out a search from a page in the advisory bodies section, only results from the advisory bodies site will be displayed.

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Can I search by date?   

Answer

Yes, by using the advanced search option or the libraries search.

You can opt to order your search results by the publication date (but bear in mind that the date will outweigh the relevance of each page to your search terms).

You can also search within a date range, by using From date and To date fields.

To search for all items published within a date range, enter * (an asterisk) as your search term,

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Can I search Gateway, series or product number?   

Answer

Yes, by using the advanced search option or the libraries search.

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I'm concerned that my search isn't finding the most recently added and updated pages - how often is the site search index updated?

Answer

The site search index is updated every hour by a spidering and indexing agent. This agent checks all the web pages each day to find any new content and pages that have an amended date stamp and adds these to the existing search index. In addition, any broken links (indicating pages that have either moved or been deleted) are deleted automatically from the index.

Bear in mind, too, that the search engine works by assessing the relevance of what is in the displayed page to the terms you have entered. If you wish also to search or sort by date, you will need to use the options on the advanced search page; or if you are looking for the most current guidance on a topic, you are more likely to find it in or linked from the relevant policy section (use the “Matches found in these sections” option in the left-hand navigation panel).

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Does the search option support wildcard searching?

Answer

Yes, use * (an asterisk).

The search engine also employs "stemming", where it will recognise a shortened version of a search word you have submitted and also search for items using this term. For example, if you submit a search for "children" you should also retrieve documents where the word "child" has been used.

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Can I use Boolean searching on the site?

Answer

This feature is not currently available.

Using advanced search

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How do the 'What do you want to find?' options work?

Answer

These options will help narrow your search:

‘Search any’: searches for all the search terms you've entered and returns results where at least one or all of the words appears. This option is best used when you search for something that can be described in several ways. For example, 'Britain', 'UK' and 'United Kingdom'.

'Search exact phrase': treats the words you type as a phrase and will only return results where all the words appear together. For example, 'getting ahead of the curve'.

'Search all': returns results that include every word you have typed. For example, 'CMO', 'communicable' and 'disease'.
'but not': used to exclude words from your search. For example, you might want information about pay but not about Agenda for Change.

The first three options ('Search any', 'Search all' and 'Search exact phrase') can be used either on their own or with the other options. The 'but not' option must be used with one of the 3 other options already described. Using all the options will narrow your search significantly and may not return the results you need.

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What does the 'Search for terms in' option do?

Answer

You can narrow your search to particular parts of the DH website by completing one or more of the boxes next to the "search for terms in" heading. You can type in a word, phrase or data in any or all of the boxes. This option searches through specific elements of each page to find the words you are looking for in the fields you have specified.

Question

Can I sort the results?

Answer

Yes. There are 2 display options: by relevance and by date.

Relevance produces a list of results where the closest matches to your search terms appear nearest the top of the list.

Date will display your search results by date of publication – most recent records first (but bear in mind that in this option, the date will outweigh the relevance score).

Using the libraries search

Question

Where do I find the libraries?

Answer

Each library relates to a specific area of the website and links to each library are available in the relevant section  (for example, the Consultations library is found in the Consultations section and the Tenders library is found in the Procurement and Proposals section under Tenders), and from the advanced search page.

In addition, when you are using any of the search libraries you can access all the other search libraries from the navigation panel on the left hand side of the screen.

Question

How do the libraries work?

Answer

Each library page works in a similar way to the 'advanced search' page. You can search by title, if you know it, or by combinations of words to describe what you are looking for. Searches in Libraries are 'and' searches, i.e., when you type in a combination of words the search engine looks for all the words. In several of the Libraries there is also an option to search across the library or in specific sections of that library. For example, you can search in the Bulletins Library across all of the Bulletins or just one of them, e.g., the GP bulletin.

Understanding the results

Question

What are recommended links?

Answer

In some cases, the search engine will provide recommended links at the top of the search results. These links are controlled by the website librarians in order to override the search engine’s calculation of the relevance of your specific search term(s), so as to draw your attention to a key policy section or document for your search term(s).

Question

Why are some words highlighted in green in the search results summaries

Answer

Wherever the search term or phrase you searched on appears in the summary it is highlighted in green. This feature enables you to make a quick judgement about the relevancy of the results.

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A message "Also try" appeared above my search results - what is this?

Answer

"Also try" suggests alternative terms for the user to search on that are synonyms for the original search term used. So it's a way of broadening your search results or making them more relevant. If you click on any of the "also try" terms a completely new search is carried out on that term.  

Question

What does the "search within" option do?

Answer

The "search within" option is available once you have submitted a basic or advanced search on the site. Along with the displayed results you'll see a box on the right of the screen headed, "Further ways to refine your search". Clicking on "search within" will present a new search box where you can type in a word or phrase which will allow you to narrow your search. For example, if you do a search for cancer then hit "search within" you can then type a term such as "breast" and the search engine will look within your original results for records that include the term, "breast".

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What does the "search again" option do?

Answer

If you have done an advanced search or library search, you'll see a box on the right of the search results page headed, "Further ways to refine your search". "Search again" is one of the options available in this panel. If you click on it you'll be take back to your original search request so you can edit it without having to retype everything again. In this way you can widen, narrow or add further terms and filters to your search.

Question

Why are all my search results in sections on advisory bodies?

Answer

We have, in effect, two sites, the main DH site (www.dh.gov.uk/en) and one for our advisory bodies (www.dh.gov.uk/ab).

Searches on the main DH site will also find relevant results in the advisory bodies site, which will also be shown in the left-hand column under the different sections of the advisory bodies site: but if you carry out a search from a page in the advisory bodies section, only results from the advisory bodies site will be displayed.

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