New NHS tool lacks text message service, forcing health entities to find their own

The latest version of an important NHS communication tool is missing one of its most crucial functions – the ability to automate text messages both to patients and internally.

NHSmail 2 – set for release in Q1 of 2015 – lacks the widely-used SMS and Fax gateway that was so popular in its predecessor.

With 18.8 million texts sent by NHS entities between March 2013 and March 2014, the removal of this service has obviously not gone down well. NHS members must now find a new SMS service or risk compromising their existing communication framework, reports.

Text messaging has proved to be a valuable way for NHS entities to confirm patient appointments, provide health advice and to communicate with one other. The amount of text messages sent by the NHS over the past two years has increased by 51 per cent, and the positive results can be seen in many hospitals and healthcare establishments across the UK.

West Suffolk Hospital’s text message reminder service, sent to patients two days before their appointments, has boosted its appointment attendance by up to 773 extra patients each month, reports.

The hospital’s transformation manager, Debs Wakefield, said: “As well as reminding patients who have forgotten their appointment, it’s giving us the opportunity to offer unwanted slots to other people, which helps reduce waiting lists and makes sure everyone receives prompt treatment.”