A cookie is a small amount of data sent to your computer or mobile phone from a website. This means the website can recognise your device (your computer or mobile phone) if you return to the same site.
A cookie often includes a unique identifier, which is a randomly generated number. This is stored on your device's hard drive. Many cookies are automatically deleted after you finish using a website.
Cookies are not programs and do not collect information from your device.
Cookies make your experience of using websites faster and easier. They allow websites to create a customised view of pages to which you navigate. For example, they are commonly used to authenticate or identify registered users of a website without requiring them to sign in each time they access it. Other uses include maintaining a ‘shopping basket’ of goods a user has chosen to purchase, site personalisation (presenting different pages to different users) and tracking the pages a user has visited on a site for analysis purposes.
Cookies may come with or without an expiry date. Cookies without an expiry date exist until the browser is closed, while cookies with an expiry date may be stored by the device until the expiry date passes.
You can restrict or block cookies set by Explain™ but this may limit your use of some functionality, such as creating a personalised account or customising the Explain™ homepage. Finding information about NHS services (for example finding a local GP, hospital or pharmacy), medical conditions and healthy living advice will still be possible even with cookies disabled.
Explain™ uses third-party suppliers who also set cookies on nhs.uk websites on our behalf to deliver the services that they are providing or record usage. More information on the cookies set by Explain™ and its third-party suppliers can be found below.
Cookies are sent to your browser (whether you use Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or any other browser) by a website and then stored in the cookies directory of your device.
To check and update your cookies settings, you will need to know what browser you are using and what version of it you have. You can usually find this out by opening the browser (just as though you were going to use the internet) and then clicking on 'Help' and then 'About'. This will give you information about the browser version you are using.
To find out how to allow, block, delete and manage the cookies on all standard web browsers, go to www.aboutcookies.org and select the browser and version you are using. You'll also find information about how to delete cookies from your computer.
Explain™ uses the Adobe Flash Player to deliver a rich media experience through its interactive tools and videos available on content pages throughout the site and in the tools and video libraries. Flash cookies are used in the same way as other cookies – to store information you provide in terms of settings or preferences. These provide additional features to improve your experience, such as storing questions that you’ve answered in an interactive tool to provide you with personalised outcomes.
To remove or disable a Flash cookie, visit the Flash Player security and privacy section on the Adobe website. Here you will find detailed guidance on how to delete or disable Flash cookies, either for a specific domain, such as nhs.uk, or for all websites. However, some of the interactive tools on Explain™ will cease to work properly if Flash cookies are disabled.
The Explain™ website uses Google Analytics cookies to determine unique visitors to the site, calculate average time spent on the website by users and determine how the website was reached (i.e. via search engine or direct link).
More details about cookies used by Google Analytics are published on the Google website.
Google also publishes a browser add-on that will stop cookie information for Google Analytics being stored.