IT case study: Pharmacy and GP practice co-working with NHSmail

IT case study: Pharmacy and GP practice co-working with NHSmail

February 23, 2021

Community pharmacy contractors and GP practice staff in Widnes are collaborating more than ever after digitising their communications through a local NHSmail initiative.

How did they do it?

Widnes Primary Care Network (PCN) engaged with GP practices in the area to create a list of GP practice staff NHSmail addresses for local pharmacies to use. The GP practices provided shared NHSmail mailbox addresses wherever possible; those are particularly helpful where GP practice staff need to be contacted but individual staff may be unavailable, e.g. because they are on leave.

The LPC for the area, Community Pharmacy Halton, St Helens and Knowsley, Mid Mersey Local Medical Committee and the medicines management team at NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group supported the initiative.

Once the local GP practice email directory was compiled, the LPC sent the list of GP practice NHSmail addresses out to local pharmacy contractors and, alongside the PCN, strongly encouraged pharmacies to use the NHSmail option as an alternative to contacting the GP practice using phone or fax.

What was the impact of the initiative?

The NHSmail emails being sent between pharmacies and GP practices increased within the area, whilst the need for pharmacy teams to contact the GP practice by phone or fax dropped.

Suketu Patel from Widnes Late Night Pharmacy explained the impact further:

Previously we’d needed to call the GP practice, sometimes waiting on hold or speaking to several people about a prescription query. Since the NHSmail campaign, we’ve used NHSmail more frequently and this has helped all around.

 “ For example, when we identify an error or issue with a prescription, we email the GP practice with the EPS number of the prescription and state we’ll mark this as ‘Not Dispensed’ but that a new prescription can be prescribed by them instead. The GP practice staff are then able to issue a new prescription by the next working day and add a note to their record. We don’t even need to wait for an email reply or to receive one because we see the new prescription. NHSmail is great for this purpose and it helps to provide a better audit trail for all. We have several incidents like this every week and the use of NHSmail is helping to save a much-needed hour of staff time.

We’d recommend that other LPCs and contractors also look for opportunities in which pharmacies and GP practices can be sighted to local addresses to assist with upping NHSmail use!

Benefits of using NHSmail

  • It improves efficiency, allowing patients to get their medicines more quickly;
  • Pharmacies contacting their GP colleagues by NHSmail are spending less time waiting on hold or speaking to staff members at the GP practice. The GP practice can deal with the email at a time that works for them;
  • It helps build local relationships between pharmacies and practices; and
  • It has helped organisations to stop using fax machines, in line with the Government’s aim of health and care axing their faxes.

Other NHSmail benefits

  • It’s secure with a high level of accreditation, with especially high security for emails sent from and to NHSmail account holders;
  • It’s mobile: shared and personal mailboxes can be added to the Outlook mobile app on smartphones and devices;
  • It’s safe: Users of NHSmail are protected by anti-spam software that reduces the number of spam and phishing emails that get through;
  • It’s integrated: Some PMR suppliers enable patient SMS text reminders via NHSmail; and
  • It enables speedy sign-up to the NHS Service Finder tool for health and care staff.

NHSmail top tips for pharmacy teams

  • Outlook web tip: Bookmark both the shared mailbox webpage and personal mailbox webpage for quicker access;
  • Consider getting access to your NHSmail within the Outlook mobile app so that you can be notified if a new email arrives within the shared pharmacy mailbox;
  • Learn how to quickly adjust the NHSmail notification settings for Outlook mobile app. You can quickly toggle notifications to ‘off’;
  • Up to ten members of staff can be linked to the shared mailbox account. The NHSmail lead person within the pharmacy can help to get accounts for extra staff members. This helps management of the shared mailbox, especially in the case of unexpected staff absences; and
  • Use accounts regularly so that they are not deactivated.

Further information:



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