The number of care providers using NHSmail, the NHS’ centrally-funded secure email service, has surged since the start of the year, from 97 providers to 1,076.
NHSmail gives staff in care homes the ability to securely share residents’ data and queries with doctors, nurses and GPs in the NHS, and get timely responses. It also connects them securely to pharmacists, dentists and anyone else in health and care with a secure email, such as an NHSmail account.
It can be accessed from mobile devices as well as desktops and includes a full directory of all NHSmail users.
Last year, an ‘Entry Level’ of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit was released1, with record numbers of care providers signing up and gaining access to NHSmail.
NHS Digital’s Social Care Programme formed a partnership with the Care Provider Alliance to work nationally with all care providers to help them embrace the digital agenda. This has included sector-led guidance for completing the different levels in the Data Security and Protection Toolkit, which can be found on the new Digital Social Care website.
In London, the NHSmail system supplier Accenture has been working with the Healthy London Partnership to support staff in the care sector to access NHSmail through guidance and face to face support, and has developed an approach to be offered nationwide.
Fatma Makalo, Centre Manager for Bridgeside Lodge Care Home said2: “We are using NHSmail and it is working so well. It is bringing a feeling of integration and you don’t feel like you are working in isolation, now you feel like you can have a conversation with a colleague. Everyone knows the system is there and they are using it very well.”
Rob Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Digital, said: “It is great to see so many care organisations taking advantage of the benefits that NHSmail offers.
“I have heard accounts of care providers talking to pharmacists about their residents’ prescriptions and communicating securely with doctors to get a quick medical opinion and many more.
“The ability to communicate quickly, securely and effectively with colleagues across the sector means real benefits to staff and better care for the people they support.
“There is still a long way to go on this journey, but this is a fantastic start.”
Notes to editors
- The Data Security and Protection Toolkit is an online self-assessment tool for data security, supporting organisations to ensure that they have the right processes and practices in place to manage and hold data safely. It is mandatory for providers who provide care through an NHS contract, though all providers are encouraged to complete it if they hold, process and share data. Developed in collaboration with the Care Provider Alliance, the “Entry Level” of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit has been specifically designed for support smaller organisations who are new to this process. It is a stepping-stone for care providers towards completing the “Standards Met Level”, showing how they comply with data protection legislation and best practice.
- See Fatma Makalo talk about her experience with NHSmail in this video from the Healthy London Partnership.
- NHSmail is secure for the exchange for patient identifiable and sensitive data, and so, for some sites, it has helped to make the discharge process smoother for staff as they can securely communicate with each other, supporting the planning in both health and care around the discharge. However, local organisations remain responsible for deciding what discharge processes they wish to use, in line with their local clinical safety assessments.
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