COVID on nhs.uk: March and April 2022

The month in numbers: March

On average, there were about 755,000 visits a day to the COVID hub. The most frequently viewed pages were what to do if you have coronavirus (what was the self-isolation page), information about lateral flow tests, book a vaccination appointment, get a digital COVID Pass and what was the Get tested for coronavirus page.

The month in numbers: April

On average, there were about 550,000 visits a day to the COVID hub. The most frequently viewed pages were book a vaccination appointment, get an NHS COVID Pass, what to do if you have coronavirus and find a walk-in vaccination site.

End of free testing

On 1 April free COVID testing ended for most people.

  • advise people what to do instead of getting a test
  • be clear about who is still eligible for free tests
  • retain user journeys for people who are still eligible for free tests to order tests, report results, etc.
  • how long to wait after having COVID before getting vaccinated if you didn’t test for COVID
  • using lateral flow tests instead of PCR tests if you are eligible for COVID treatments
  • changing the advice on what to do if you have any symptoms from ‘get a PCR test’ to ‘try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people’.

Updated COVID symptoms

At the same time as this change to testing eligibility, the list of COVID symptoms was expanded from 3 symptoms to 12.

  • to remain consistent with public health guidance from PHE/UKHSA and national comms
  • to focus on the symptoms that were most specific to COVID (even as the profile of COVID changed with Delta, Omicron and vaccination, these 3 symptoms were still the strongest indicators of a COVID infection)
  • to be as clear as possible about the criteria for needing to get a test, self-isolate or take some other action.
Screenshot of Google search results for covid symptoms
If you search for COVID symptoms in the UK, Google will present structured information from nhs.uk on the search results page in what is called a ‘knowledge panel’.

Results of these changes

We surveyed thousands of users of nhs.uk before and after the 1 April changes:

  • A similar number of respondents (85% before, 87% after) found some or all of the information they were looking for.
  • More respondents said they would do nothing as a result of viewing this information (14% before, 32% after).
  • Fewer respondents said they would get a test (48% before, 21% after).

Other changes to nhs.uk COVID content

In roughly chronological order:

What we’re doing next month

I can’t share everything that we’re currently working on because some of it is sensitive, but here’s what I can tell you. We will:

  • prototype and test changes to higher risk content, including pregnancy
  • update messaging on non-COVID conditions pages where symptoms are also symptoms of COVID.

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James Higgott

James Higgott

Lead product manager at NHS Digital. South London resident.