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NHS launches coronavirus text service


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A group of NHS and government organisations has developed a text service for people most threatened by coronavirus.

NHSX, NHS Digital, NHS Business Services Authority and the Behavioural Insights Team have now launched the service to send daily text messages to over 1 million people who have been identified by the NHS in England as needing to protect themselves by self-isolating for at least 12 weeks.

This includes people who have had organ transplants, have certain types of cancers or significant respiratory conditions. 

The service has been built on the GOV.UK Notify platform, developed by the Government Digital Service for use throughout the public sector. Last week GDS highlighted its availability for emergency communications.

The text messages are being sent daily by the NHS and include: information about why vulnerable people need to self-isolate; practical guidance such as how to access care and support while isolating; and wellbeing and emotional advice. They direct recipients to further sources of information on the NHS website and GOV.UK.

People can opt out from the service if they want by replying ‘stop’ to any message. 

NHS Digital said that one of the group’s concerns was that the texts may be treated as spam by some recipients. Subsequently, they have been designed so that they are clearly from the NHS and government.

Image from, Open Government Licence v.30

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