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NHSmail: An interview with John McGhie

Product Manager, John McGhie, outlines the benefits of making the switch to the NHS email service…

Is NHSmail likely to be a mandated alternative to faxing by April 2020?

NHSmail is a secure platform that can meet all the needs of any organisation moving away from the use of faxes. The DHSC has already mandated that the organisations must use an email solution that conforms to the secure email standard, NHSmail is accredited but is not mandated, organisations are free to select the solution that best meets their local needs. NHSmail is currently used by over 13,000 health and care organisations in England.

Published by
Rory Bibb
PR and Marketing Executive, Silver Buck

Why use NHSMail?

NHSmail is a nationally secure email collaborations service supporting Health and Social Care across England and Scotland. The core service is centrally funded, which includes secure email, instant messaging and presence, with local easy to use admin tools to support use. The service is clinically approved and comes with a range of additional services to build local digital maturity.

What organisations are typically most resistant to using NHSmail and why?

There is very little resistance to using this centrally funded service, and most organisations have now moved, are planning to move or are discussing future options with the introduction and provision for O365 and other collaboration products onto the service.

Many organisations have issues with the mailbox and file size and find it problematic to have yet another password? Integration with other systems? What are you doing to address these issues?

All email systems will have similar governance rules and process in place to protect their platform. NHSmail provides clear guidance to users on the steps to take to manage their mailbox, sending files sizes and password management and wider integration. We are constantly moving forward with the technical possibilities that additional products and services bring to the platform and with these additional features O365, Single Sign-On and increased security in line with national standards, organisations will have the tools at their disposal to meets these challenges.

What are the benefits of having a solution (NHSmail) that is affected by central decisions?

NHSmail, as a centrally managed service, takes on the key challenges and concerns facing organisations today delivering similar services.

NHSmail provides a single point for managed security challenges and cyber defence, reducing the fragmented nature of these responses. Strict governance and control adhering to national standards, best practice and quality control processes and procedures. NHSmail promotes a focused national vision for the future direction of Health and social care that aligns to the National Digital Strategy. Expensive running costs are reduced allowing local organisations more money to invest elsewhere.

What type of support is offered when NHSmail is implemented?

The admin tools developed by the service allow the local organisation to continue to support their staff under their existing model, with a 24/7/365 National Service desk provided for additional assistance or out of hours support, supported by a range of self-service capabilities.

NHSmail experienced a major outage last year, what is your guidance to those who want to continue to use fax machines or alternative methods for business continuity?

Robust business continuity processes and procedures need to be in place for any service provided locally or nationally. NHSmail takes this responsibility seriously and has taken steps to limit the risks associated with running a service that is depended upon nationally, and these processes and procedures are tested annually and verified by the staff running the service.

Organisations need to have local steps in place to deal with business continuity challenges.

What is your position on those organisations wanting to use an alternative method to NHSmail or a hybrid model?

The advice is to engage with those that manage the service to better understand the current offering and discuss your needs and see how these fit with the development of the service.

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