NHS Digital has claimed a surge in the number of care provider organisations using NHSmail.
It said the total has risen from 97 to 1,076 since the beginning of the year, while there has been an even stronger increase in the number of individuals, rising from 235 to 4,250.
This marks a step forward in the integration of health and social care in England, following the broadening of access to NHSmail earlier this year. It was made available to care providers when they complete the entry level of NHS Digital’s Data Security and Protection Toolkit.
It gives staff in care homes the ability to securely share residents’ data and queries with doctors, nurses and GPs in the NHS and connects them securely to pharmacists, dentists and anyone else in health and care with a secure email.
The trend has been supported by NHS Digital’s partnership with the Care Provider Alliance to encourage care providers to make more use of digital systems, and by NHSmail system supplier Accenture working with the Health London Partnership on developing guidance to be shared nationwide.
Feeling of integration
Fatma Makalo, centre manager for Bridgeside Lodge Care Home in Islington said: “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: “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.”
The Data Security and Protection Toolkit is an online self-assessment tool, which is mandatory for organisations providing care through an NHS contract. NHS Digital is encouraging all providers to complete it.
The entry level has been specifically designed for supporting smaller organisations which are new to the process.
Image from psd.scot.nhs.uk, Open Government Licence