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Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. More about the merger.

NHS App messaging service

Patients can receive in-app messages from their surgery, instead of other traditional communication methods like SMS (text message) or letter.

Introduction to NHS App messaging

The NHS App messaging service provides a secure inbox that will allow patients to start receiving messages from health and care services such as their GP surgery via the NHS App, instead of traditional channels like SMS (text message) or letter. Patients will get a notification from the NHS App when they receive a message in their secure inbox, if they have notifications enabled on their device.

Over time, as well as GP surgeries, other health care services such as the national COVID vaccine service, or local community services, will use the NHS App to send messages to their patients. We hope that eventually it will be the main way that citizens of England receive their healthcare messages.

How it works

NHS App messaging is a new service which lets you send NHS App users an in-app message where they would normally receive a message via a more traditional channel, like SMS.

It is the patient’s choice whether to receive messages in this way. In order to have this choice, they will need to switch on NHS App notifications on their device, so that they are prompted to read the message in the app. This can be done in the NHS App or in the device settings.
If a message is not successfully delivered to the NHS App, your messaging service provider will automatically send a message via another channel such as SMS. This is to ensure the patient receives the message.

There are some messages that are currently not supported by NHS App messaging, such as time critical messages. The messaging service supplier will ensure these messages are not sent to the app.

How it's different to other messaging features

There are currently multiple messaging services available in the NHS App, including:

  • NHS App messaging (the new service described on this page)
  • GP surgery messaging (referred to as IM1 PFS messaging where patients can contact the surgery)
  • Request care or ask your GP surgery a question (online consultation request)
  • consultations, events and messaging (available through personal health record like Patient Knows Best)

Benefits to staff and patients

Getting started

Speak to your communications supplier or whoever manages this contract

Check whether your current messaging service supplier offers NHS App Messaging.

If they do, ask them when they will be rolling this service out in your practice.

If they don’t, ask them to get in touch with the NHS Digital app onboarding team at [email protected].

Update your privacy policy

Consider updating your privacy policy to tell patients who their data is shared with and why.

You can use this wording on your website:

We use the NHS Account Messaging Service provided by NHS Digital to send you messages relating to your health and care. You need to be an NHS App user to receive these messages. Further information about the service can be found at the privacy notice for the NHS App managed by NHS Digital at

Plan how you will tell your patients about this service

We have produced some digital resources to help you promote this service to patients in your surgery.

You should also use this as an opportunity to promote the NHS App to your patients who have not yet registered for it. There are some resources to help you do this.

Do's and don'ts


Do only send messages to a patient where you have the legal basis to contact them with the specific purpose of your message. Only send messages that are relevant to the people you’re sending it to.

Do write in a simple and concise way. Keep in mind that your messages will go out to people with all sorts of comprehension skills, digital skills, reading age and native language. Use language and terms your patients will understand. The NHS content style guide has common terms which we know from research users understand the best.

Do send full messages without summarising too much, and use correct formatting for headings, hyperlinks, paragraphs and line breaks to make your message clear and accessible.

Do make sure that any content linked from the message you send is available for as long as necessary. This is especially critical where the click-through directly relates to the individual’s care, such as archives of forms, documents, or test results.

Do listen to feedback from patients who report inappropriate or unwanted messages.

Do prepare your front-line staff so they know how to answer queries and resolve any issues. Encourage them to promote this service to their patients and for patients to download the NHS App.


Don’t send too many messages or messages irrelevant to the recipient and their direct care. Research suggests that if a patient receives too many messages not directly relevant to their care, their engagement with the NHS App reduces significantly.

Don’t include personal data in any URLs sent in the message. However, because messages are secured by NHS login, you can include personal data and special category data (such as about someone’s care) in the body of the message.

Don't send messages with unsupported features, such as text requesting a reply using SMS keyword responses. Your supplier can tell you what’s available to you.

Message templates

Example SMS and in-app message templates to help you promote this service to patients.

Help and support

If you're having technical issues using NHS App messaging, contact your messaging service supplier.

If you want to find out more about NHS App messaging and how you can implement it in your surgery, email the NHS App implementation team at [email protected]. This team also have a page on the FutureNHS collaboration platform: NHS App Notifications and Messaging.

Last edited: 6 December 2022 1:11 pm