Health Information

This page is for patients, their families and carers as well as the health and care staff supporting them.

We want to help everyone understand their own health and care better and we provide a lot of support for anyone interested in health literacy and patient information.

Health Literacy Toolkit

This 2023 second edition of the Health Literacy Toolkit opens with a general introduction to health literacy and digital health literacy. The main focus of the document is a review of tools and techniques that are freely available.

The full toolkit can be downloaded as a PDF or the full toolkit can be downloaded as a Word document.

The principal tools and techniques are listed below, with links where these are specific tools on external websites, rather than wider techniques. Different aspects of health literacy, such as ‘Spoken Communication’, are included in the full toolkit as context for using the tools

Guidance and Tools

1. Communicating with people

          Tool 1: Levels of literacy and numeracy

2. Spoken communication

          Tool 2: Teach-Back

          Tool 3: Chunk and Check

          Tool 4: Health Literacy eLearning

3. Written Information

          Tool 5: How to write in plain English

          Tool 6: A-Z of alternative words from the Plain English Campaign

          Tool 7: Plain English lexicon from the Plain Language Commission

          Tool 8: Care and Support Jargon Buster from Think Local Act Personal

          Tool 9: A guide to producing written information in easy read from North Yorkshire County Council

4. Readability

          Tool 10: Hemingway

          Tool 11: Flesch-Kincaid readability test

          Tool 12: Drivel Defence

          Tool 13: NHS Medical Document Readability Tool

5. Involving service users

          Levels of user involvement

          Tool 14: Co-production

6. Design

          Information in print

          Additional tips for digital information

          Pictures, graphs and other images


This is the second edition of a toolkit that was originally developed by the Community Health and Learning Foundation, Public Health England, Health Education England and NHS England. This revised version was developed in 2023 by a Task and Finish group of health knowledge and library specialists, working with Liz Woolf as an external writer.

Free elearning course for anyone

Did you know that 43% of adults aged 16-65 struggle with text-based health information and that increases to 61% if the information also includes numbers? If you want to know more, and learn how you can help people understand health information better, take this 35 minute e-learning course

61% of adults struggle to understand health information when it contains both words and images.

Easy read guides to download and share

For people with learning disabilities and autism, we have also co-produced two easy read guides to download. ‘Get ready to talk about your health’ prepares them for what to do before they go for a consultation with any health or care provider. ‘3 questions for better health’ suggests important questions to ask during an appointment.

3 questions for better health Image: man pointing

Resources for staff to use and share with the people they care for

For anyone working or studying in health and care, as well as patients, their families and carers with general health and wellbeing we have collected books and online links – take a look at our Uplifting Resources and Your Health Collection.  The books are available to staff working a Trust via their health library, but most people will be able find the books in their local public library too.

Text: Your Health Collection

Understanding health literacy in your area

We have worked with the University of Southampton to develop an online health literacy geodata tool. By allowing health economists, commissioners and planners to see the levels of health literacy in their area means they are better equipped to tackle health inequalities aligned to other local challenges. By simply putting in your local authority you can see place based data. Try it out to find out what that looks like where you live.

Text: Planning to improve health literacy in England Image: map pin

NHS website

The NHS website is the main route to information and services from the NHS. In the Health A-Z section, you will find immediate links with buttons to a comprehensive health encyclopaedia and to Medicines information.

The NHS App

The NHS App lets you book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access a range of other healthcare services.

Patient UK

Patient UK has lots of healthcare information. There’s a wellbeing section, where you can get the most recent updates on helping you enjoy a healthy lifestyle, as well as A-Zs for conditions and medicines.

There are videos and discussion forums are other useful aspects of this site – there is even a newsletter you can sign up for.

Watch this short video to find out more about the right questions to ask to help understand your health choices.