A new Coronavirus Status Checker that will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
People with potential coronavirus symptoms are now being asked to complete the status checker and answer a short series of questions which will tell the NHS about their experience.
It is open to anyone in the UK to use on the NHS website and in its initial phase the NHS is particularly keen for anyone who thinks they may be displaying potential coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, to complete it.
Status Checker users are clearly told at the beginning and the end of the survey that it is not a triage or clinical advice tool, and that they should visit 111 online for medical advice about their symptoms.
The information gathered will help the NHS to plan its response to the outbreak, indicating when and where more resources like oxygen, ventilators and additional staff might be needed and will provide valuable insight into the development and progression of the virus across the country.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Technology and data is playing a vital role in battling coronavirus and supporting our heroic NHS frontline workers to save lives, protect the vulnerable, and relive pressure on the NHS.
We must learn as much as possible about this virus, and we are asking the whole nation to join this effort.
If anyone has experienced symptoms of COVID-19 I would urge you to use our new status checker app to help us to collect essential information on the virus and allow us to better allocate NHS resources where they are needed most.
The service is hosted on the NHS website and is available to access openly, with links directly from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service and NHS coronavirus pages.
The initiative is a collaboration between NHS England, NHSX, NHS Digital and Public Health England at the request of the Health and Social Care Secretary.
The creators of a number of independent apps and websites which have already launched to collect similar data have agreed to work openly with the NHS and align their products and data as part of this central, national effort.
Information collected by the NHS Coronavirus Status Checker will form part of a core national COVID-19 dataset held by NHS England.
The tool is live now and people can complete the survey either for themselves or on behalf of someone else with their permission.
It asks them:
- why they are staying at home
- to choose from a series of options to describe how they are feeling
- whether they have any other health problems
- their date of birth
- their postcode
- how many people are living in their home.
The Coronavirus Status Checker, which is the latest example of the NHS harnessing the power of technology and data to help it tackle the epidemic, is part of the NHS coronavirus service. It complements the NHS 111 online coronavirus tool launched earlier this month, which gives the public digital access to health advice, isolation notes and a daily text messaging service for those self-isolating with symptoms.
The Status Checker will not identify users from the information they provide, although it will cross-reference data from other sources to ensure it avoids counting people twice.
The answers given by the public will only be used by the NHS and trusted organisations working directly with the NHS in response to coronavirus. The information will not be retained any longer than is strictly necessary post COVID-19.
Prof Keith Willett, Strategic Incident Director NHS England, said:
We know large volumes of people are visiting NHS 111 online each day, reporting potential coronavirus symptoms and being advised to self-isolate, and it will be hugely valuable for the NHS if we can learn more about these people and their experiences.
By taking a few moments to answer these questions, you can play your part in helping the NHS put its resources in the right places, at the right time, to save lives.