1. Introduction

NHS Elect is committed to the highest editorial and ethical standards in the provision of all its online content.

NHS Elect website is funded by NHS Elect. It is committed to providing objective and trustworthy information and guidance on all aspects of  health and healthcare.

NHS Elect will ensure that content is evidence-based, and that it is founded on the best scientific knowledge currently available.

The following sections set out our editorial principles, standards and processes:

2. Principles

 
 2.1      Accuracy:  NHS Elect website content will be accurate, balanced and transparent. Information given will be judged against the best available scientific evidence and sources named wherever possible. Where content contains conjecture or opinion, this will be clearly indicated.

2.2     Accountability:  NHS Elect is accountable to its audiences and will deal fairly with them. It will be open in admitting mistakes and encourages a culture of learning via user feedback. The editorial processes will be transparent.
 
2.3     Serving the public: NHS Elect will put its audiences’ interests first when sourcing and developing content. It will consult with relevant professional bodies, charities and other interest groups but serving its local communities will remain of paramount importance.
    
2.4     Taste and decency: All content on NHS Elect website will be suitable for a general audience and will not include material that might reasonably be deemed offensive.

2.5     Impartiality and diversity of opinion: NHS Elect 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.

    
2.6     Privacy: NHS Elect is committed to ensuring that strict privacy controls are maintained. Personal information, including any correspondence, will not be disclosed without the prior explicit consent of the user, unless NHS Elect is required to do so for legal reasons (such as a Court Order), or disclosure is in the public interest. Permission will be sought from service users where photographic images are used.

2.7     Funding: NHS Elect online communications are funded by NHS Elect. It does not carry advertising and does not accept corporate sponsorship.
 

3     Standards

 
NHS Elect has a dedicated team of editors. It has a clear mandate to produce accurate, balanced and transparent information.
 
No website editor, author, administrator will be asked, or is permitted, to provide favoured treatment to any partner organisation and all editorial staff must fully disclose any financial or other interests they may have in any healthcare-related companies or organisations.

In accordance with NHS Elect policy, all staff, including editorial staff, are required to disclose any conflict of interests with other organisations, including healthcare related companies. CEO of NHS Elect investigates any potential conflict of interest to NHS Elect.

The Website Editor will report any potential conflict of interest to the CEO who will investigate the matter and reach a decision.

Where content is produced by outside organisations or individuals, NHS Elect requires that such agents make a similar disclosure of outside interests.

4     Staff Training

All editorial staff are given training to ensure editorial standards are met.

 

5    Editorial process

 
5.1    Phase 1 - Research
The evidence-based knowledge that informs all NHS Elect communications content is derived from the direct experience of clinicians, other health professionals, patients and the wider public.

In pulling together this knowledge to provide users with a rounded and balanced package of material on a particular subject, NHS Elect requires its content authors to consult the following resources:

For peer-reviewed research, they consult the National Library for Health (NLH), which has developed a system for classifying different types of research evidence with respect to their validity.

For knowledge of direct experience they consult:

Practising doctors and other clinicians with direct and current experience in dealing with or treating the health issues
National charities with a recognised expertise and specialist interest
Patients and ordinary members of the wider public who may be directly affected by a topic or issue
 
5.2    Phase 2 – Production

Once a piece of content has been drafted, it is edited by a member of the NHS Elect team:

It is checked for:

  • Accuracy
  • Balance
  • Accessibility
  • Tone

Written content is then passed on to Website Editor:

  • Common factual errors
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Adherence to house style
  • Overall presentation
  • Clarity

5.3    Phase 3 - Policy sign-off

Any NHS Elect policies before they are published online must be approved by the CEO.
 
5.4    Phase 4 - Review of content

The content of the NHS Elect  website is reviewed systematically. Major content is reviewed annually, and content less susceptible to change in knowledge and evidence is reviewed at least every two years.

Comments from users and stakeholders on published content are considered on a day-by-day basis as they arrive, and content reviewed and amended immediately if necessary.

6     Appeals procedure

In the unlikely event of a complaint about online content that cannot be resolved by the Website Editor the matter will be escalated to the Chief Executive.