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For the last web trawl of 2005, we look at two very different UK based sites, both of which may also be of interest to readers from overseas.
http://www.statistics.gov.uk This web site provides detailed statistics relating to almost every aspect of UK life. The detailed home page allows the user to navigate to more than 50 different pages, some of which supply statistical data, others of which provide related information on the methods used to collect this data, the code of practice, and even information on available jobs in the field of national statistics. For users wishing to find information rapidly on a particular theme, a drop down menu provides quick access to statistics grouped into 12 specific categories. The health professional will probably find the “Health and Care” section of most interest. In addition to survival data (particularly for malignancies and circulatory diseases), statistics are provided on a variety of quality of life parameters (for example, social inequalities, living standards, and working hours). It should be pointed out that much of the data are grouped geographically and data for England and Wales are frequently grouped together and separately from Scottish data. All of the data provided are freely available, there do not seem to be any access restrictions on any section of the web site, and the web site is updated regularly. For anyone; heath professional, or layman alike, this site should be your first port of call if you are searching for statistical information of any kind regarding life in the United Kingdom.
http://www.bhf.org.uk This is the official web site of the British Heart Foundation. Much of the site and its links is aimed at the general public and provides information on the work of the foundation, and fundraising activities. However anyone, whatever their background, who is struggling to give up smoking, may find the section on smoking cessation helpful. A link from the home page allows the user to navigate to a set of pages detailing the health risks that smoking presents and providing information on support groups for those wishing to give up. Health professionals are catered for with a separate section accessible from the home page. The information provided here includes fact files for general practitioners. These cover a wide variety of topics related to heart disease, and may be downloaded in pdf format. They are intended to assist GPs in advising their patients. A further link provides access to statistical data on coronary heart disease in the UK, and from this page the user may access a separate web site; http://www.heartstats.org, which is dedicated to providing statistical information on the prevention, treatment, and causes of heart disease in the UK. For anyone wishing to undertake research into heart disease, forms to apply for funding may also be downloaded from the web site. Again, there is no restriction to accessing any part of the web site, and although there is no date stating when the site was last updated, the information does seem to be current. This site is likely to be of interest to health professionals of all disciplines who are working in the area of heart disease. The separate statistics section may be of particular value.