False news is not restricted to politics, it can also affect people looking for health advice online.
With so much information available on the internet, it is often hard for people to establish what is published by a reliable source – just because it is on the internet does not mean it is necessarily correct.
Helping to create Cranbrook Healthy Town, Cranbrook’s team of library volunteers and some members of Cranbrook Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) enjoyed finding out about reliable and safe online health information recently.
Part of a pilot project to provide safe online health-information, the training session was run by Carol Giles from the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. Participants learned that instead of using Google, people should use trusted sites such as NHS Choices. This site offers information including Health A-Z, Live Well, and Health News which looks behind the headlines at the science which makes the news.
Carol Giles, Library and Knowledge Services Manager, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I was very pleased to meet with Cranbrook volunteers as part of the Cranbrook Healthy Town scheme.
“Training members of Cranbrook’s volunteers presented itself at a time when RD&E’s library service is developing their role in signposting the public to high quality and safe health information. I hope this workshop will be the start of a strong involvement for our service in delivering similar sessions to a wide range of groups."
Councillor Andrew Moulding, East Devon District Council’s Deputy Leader and executive spokesman for strategic partnerships, said: “A great deal is being said about fake news at the moment and while we might not always believe everything we read in some newspapers, do we remember that the same applies to the internet? This is very important when it comes to looking up information about health for ourselves and our families.
“This session for the library volunteers and patient participation group is a welcome step in helping people find trusted and reliable sources of health information, and is one of the many ways that Cranbrook’s healthy town programme is really making a difference.”
Keith Johnson, Cranbrook’s Community Development worker, said:“Everyone had time to explore the NHS Choices website with Carol, which was really useful and will help us point colleagues, friends and families in the best direction to check information about health and wellbeing.
“It was an excellent and informative session.”
It is hoped that more sessions can be delivered for other community champions.
This session was hosted by Action East Devon in the library in Younghayes Centre, and was arranged by East Devon District Council and funded through NHS England’s Healthy New Town programme.