Chatbot provides new route for Scottish patients to access Covid-19 information and support

People across Scotland who need help and information about coronavirus can now get help using an online chatbot from NHS 24.

The new chatbot has been developed by NHS 24 with thanks to six organisations across business and technology and is available to people via the health and care information website, NHS inform.

As Scotland’s national provider of telephone and digital based services, NHS 24 has been at the forefront of providing information and care for people worried about coronavirus. The organisation has provided a dedicated information helpline (0800 028 2816) as well as its 111 service for people with symptoms. Additionally, its health information website, NHS inform, has provided the most comprehensive and up to date information for people across Scotland since the pandemic began.

NHS 24 has responded to the crisis by providing people with a number of options about the way they access information and advice. The chatbot – called Ave – answered 40,000 queries in its first 30 days, using clinically-approved information from NHS inform.

Adding the chatbot function to NHS inform enhanced the way people accessed the information. As a trusted partner to the NHS with a long standing relationship, Capgemini made the initial introduction between Cancer Central and NHS 24 for the project. Ave is the creation of Cancer Central, engineered by Amido, hosted by Microsoft, with SMS texts by Twilio and supported by Baker McKenzie. All organisations have given their support through social impact initiatives, to help the NHS through the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS 24’s Head of Digital, Louise Bennie said: “It’s been a great experience working with such a diverse and talented group of people, all focused on delivering this option to people with questions about coronavirus. We’re grateful to all the teams for making this happen and the chatbot Ave, named after Cancer Central’s founder Avril Chester, is a great addition to the NHS inform website.”

Chester, “We’re so pleased that we’ve been able to support our NHS colleagues at this difficult time, using concepts from our own cancer chatbot to help people affected by Covid-19. Our technical partner Amido applied all their learnings from working with organisations to drive growth, efficiency and innovation to Ask Ave so that NHS 24 can provide people with a new way to quickly access reliable medical information.”

Faith la Grange, Director, Local and Regional Government, Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is proud to play a part in supporting NHS 24 at this time. Chat bot technologies like Ave can ensure that healthcare services continue to provide crucial and timely support to those who need it, helping save time, improving individual experience and crucially, assisting staff in delivering the best possible patient care in such unusual times. We are incredibly grateful to healthcare staff for their continued efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and are committed to supporting them however best we can.”


About NHS 24

Scotland’s national provider of NHS telephone and digital based services. Responsible for the 111 telephone service, Breathing Space, Quit Your Way Scotland, the Carers Information Service and the NHS inform website, NHS 24 have been at the forefront of Scotland's response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @NHS24

About Cancer Central

Cancer Central is a young award-winning social enterprise built on community, partnerships and a common goal to use tech for good. Created from over 40,000 donated hours, their vision is to become one of the leading HealthTech platforms delivering specialised online health hubs with Ask Ave, an AI Chatbot guiding people to the information they need. Join and follow Cancer Central’s journey, @CancerCentralUK on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, plus @CancerCentralTV on YouTube. (

About Amido

Amido is a team of software engineers and technical consultants using cloud technologies to help organisations achieve better business outcomes in the form of improved growth, increased efficiencies and applied innovations. It’s expertise spans everything from identity and access management, cloud service integration and microservices, through to data engineering and machine learning / artificial intelligence. It works across a number of sectors and its clients include some of the UK’s best-known businesses, a number of the UK’s largest public sector bodies, and other organisations too. It has just celebrated 10 years in business.

About Capgemini

Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, digital transformation, technology and engineering services. The Group is at the forefront of innovation to address the entire breadth of clients’ opportunities in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms. Building on its strong 50-year+ heritage and deep industry-specific expertise, Capgemini enables organizations to realize their business ambitions through an array of services from strategy to operations. Capgemini is driven by the conviction that the business value of technology comes from and through people. Today, it is a multicultural company of 270,000 team members in almost 50 countries. With Altran, the Group reported 2019 combined revenues of €17billion. (

About Twilio

Millions of developers around the world have used Twilio to unlock the magic of communications to improve any human experience. Twilio has democratized communications channels like voice, text, chat, video, and email by virtualizing the world’s communications infrastructure through APIs that are simple enough for any developer to use, yet robust enough to power the world’s most demanding applications. By making communications a part of every software developer’s toolkit, Twilio is enabling innovators across every industry — from emerging leaders to the world’s largest organizations — to reinvent how companies engage with their customers.

About Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy. We solve complex legal problems across borders and practice areas. Our unique culture, developed over 70 years, enables our 13,000 people to understand local markets and navigate multiple jurisdictions, working together as trusted colleagues and friends to instil confidence in our clients. (

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

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About Cancer Central

Cancer Central is the first award winning HealthTech cancer platform using AI to guide people affected by cancer to find the support and information they need. A place for both cancer patients and their carers. A UK based charity (1202482) created from over 70,000 donated hours and founded by Avril Chester in 2018. Avril started her mission to create a centralised hub after noting disparate channels to find support for practical issues and services, such as hats, clothing, physical activity, financial advice & local support during her own diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in 2015/16.

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