Websites introduction

We do not support the production of new stand-alone websites for GP Health Centres, please see below for details on web rationalisation.

However, any existing websites which contain information about NHS services must follow the branding guidelines outlined.

If you are thinking of creating a web presence for your NHS services, you should discuss with the Primary Care Trust (PCT) to agree the best way of integrating this into other NHS websites.

Please note for third party providers NHS services must not feature on the same page as non NHS services or products.

Website branding

  • All NHS websites should use a .nhs website address and feature the NHS logo in a lead position. We recommend that the PCT NHS logotype is used to communicate local accountability. You should position the PCT NHS logotype in the top right of the website. If a third party provider logo is required, this should be placed bottom right, as outlined in these guidelines (section NHS logo). A provider logo or logotype should not be larger than the NHS lozenge. This is determined by the height of the NHS lozenge (shown as X)

A line of text should be added explaining the relationship between any third party provider and the commissioning Primary Care Trust. E.G 'X Health Centre is run by X Healthcare on behalf of NHS X'

Website Specification

The specifications for using the commissioning Primary Care Trust (PCT) NHS logotype and your provider descriptor line on web pages are as follows:

  • Logo size: the minimum height of the commissioning Primary Care Trust (PCT) NHS logotype should be 10mm.
  • Positioning: the commissioning Primary Care Trust (PCT) NHS logotype and descriptor line should be added as a single fixed unit in its own space, as shown in the example below.
  • Exclusion zone: observe an exclusion zone around the commissioning Primary Care Trust (PCT) NHS logotype and your provider descriptor line; this should be equal in height to the NHS logo.
  • Colour: use the blue version of the NHS logo and your provider descriptor line on a white background, or reverse it out of a blue band. Never use your own corporate colour.

Please note

  • Corporate colours should form the basis for all NHS website design schemes.
  • As a general rule, backgrounds should be white and text should be black.
  • Navigation areas should be white or NHS blue.

GPHC website example


All NHS communications - including websites - must embody the NHS values and communications principles.

When designing your site, you should ensure that the information structure, content and navigation - as well as the front-end design - supports these values and principles.

The Central Office of Information (COI) publish standards and guidelines for the whole of public sector online. Rather than repeat large sections of text, please refer to the relevant part of the COI guidelines wherever possible.

Planning your website

Consider the following issues before you write the brief or specification for your site.


Assessing the need for the website

 Is a new website necessary

  • Will it duplicate information already provided elsewhere, for example, on or NHS Direct Online?
  • Would your content be better placed on another site in the NHS health community?
  • Please be aware of the Website rationalisation rules, part of the governments 'Transformational Government' strategy.

Web rationalisation 

Website rationalisation rules, part of the governments 'Transformational Government' strategy mean that the Department of Health and NHS organisations, along with all other departments cannot set up any new stand-alone websites. Website rationalisation is based on principles established to improve the overall citizen experience in the Government’s web services. The strategy aims to make it easier for citizens to find online information by reducing the number of websites containing central Government and NHS information to a handful of websites.

NHS Identity


Websafe colour palette

As with printed communications, colour can be used in electronic media to add interest and appeal while staying true to the NHS look and feel.

The NHS web colour palette uses a different specification system to the print colour palette. For example, within the web colour palette, NHS Blue (Pantone® 300) is displayed using the hexadecimal format, HTML 0066CC. The web palette also allows for RGB variations in electronic presentations.

You should only ever use the NHS web colour palette for electronic publishing.

Do not use tints of any of the web palette colours.

NHS web colour palette

There are two levels to the NHS web colour palette.


Corporate colours

  • This is NHS blue
  • Should form the basis for all NHS website design schemes.
  • As a general rule, backgrounds should be white and text should be black.
  • Navigation areas should be white or NHS Blue.


Secondary colours

  • Developed to support and complement the corporate colours.
  • A secondary colour can be used to break up a page, which may ensure that the primary colours do not become more prominent than the corporate colours.
  • Make sure they do not overpower or detract from the corporate colours.


Using the colour palette

  • Do not combine the colours from the levels to create new colours - use only the specified colours.
  • Do not use tints of any of the NHS web palette colours.
  • Do not use any of the colours to create textures, patterns or images.


Links enrich the content of any website and users find them valuable, especially when set in context. We recommend that links are provided on the page itself, rather than on a separate 'Useful links' page.

How to link

  • Make sure your links are relevant to the copy they follow.
  • Ensure that the actual text of the link would make sense if taken out of the context of the preceding copy.
  • Make sure that links are easily recognisable and consistent throughout the site
  • Do not use different colours for each section of a website. Consider following the established convention of highlighting them in blue, underlined text and reserve this style just for links.
  • Check regularly for broken links and ensure that links go to the expected page or site.
  • Make sure the site has an easy-to-use way for users to report link problems.
  • Links should describe the destination and make sense when read out of context. Therefore, avoid the use of ‘click here’, for example.

Where to link

All NHS sites should link to and NHS Direct Online ( from the home page. If you wish to obtain a copy of the NHS Direct logo, please contact your local NHS Direct communications lead or email

The graphic is available from the NHS Connecting for Health team.

  • Link freely to other NHS, DH and other government sites, as well as local authority, academic or non-commercial sites.
  • Don't overwhelm users with links.
  • Make sure they are all useful and relevant.
  • Many sites publish their links policy on the site. Make sure you follow their guidance on linking to their site. If no guidance is given, contact the web manager for permission to link to their site.

Take care with controversial issues and areas where there is significant divergence between the NHS and non-NHS organisations.

  • Provide balance and give due weight to the official NHS view.
  • You may link to websites which express an alternative argument to the official NHS view. However, if the opposing viewpoint is based on poor evidence, rumour, hearsay, or uncorroborated personal opinion, don't link to sites supporting it.

NHS sites should not directly link to commercial sites, unless you are working with a commercial partner. There are two reasons for this:

  • Commercial sites may contain biased or unbalanced content, eg promoting particular products, services or companies over others. You can deny endorsement through a disclaimer but users may still believe the link implies some level of approval.
  • It would be unfair to link to one commercial site and not its competitors. A perceived 'NHS endorsement' could give the owning organisation competitive advantage and it is impractical to link to all competing sites.

 Bringing users back to NHS sites

Users can become disorientated or lost when exploring links. In the worst case, they might unintentionally leave your site and be unable to return. There are two solutions to this problem:

  • Rely on the user's ability to use the 'back' button on their browser to get back to your site. This is an internet convention but it will be frustrating for users who explore links in depth.
  • Open the link in a new window. Your site stays visible and accessible but users can end up with multiple open windows, which may crash some PCs.

Using logos as links

There is no restriction on using logos as links to approved sites. Don't give out the NHS or your organisation's logo to any organisation outside the NHS to use as a link without the prior consent of the DH branding team.

Legal issues

Information and guidance on legal issues relating to websites such as copyright, data protection, privacy, disability discrimination and the Welsh language requirements are available from the Central Office of Information.

Further helpful resources

Last updated: 26/04/10