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Enhancing care provider communications during the Covid-19 outbreak

Important update on NHSmail access and the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) waiver for social care  

NHSX requires all social care providers using NHSmail to register with Digital Social Care by 30 September 2020 to ensure ongoing NHSmail access.  You can find more information from Digital Social Care on the fast track registration process here.

Please note that you are not required to complete or comply with the toolkit by 30 September. 

You can find out more about this plus NHSX’s plans to consult on the timescales for reintroducing DSPT compliance requirements and its planned programme of support for social care providers to enable DSPT compliance on the Digital Social Care website. 

The DSPT remains a requirement for organisations who wish to hold Continued Healthcare contracts. It is a free, online self-assessment tool allowing organisations to demonstrate their compliance with data protection standards.

Fast track access to NHSmail

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, secure communication between health and social care services is more important than ever.

To support this the NHS is fast tracking roll out of NHSmail to care providers without the need to complete the data security and protection toolkit (DSPT). Any provider with an ODS code starting with ‘V’ will be able to access this free NHSmail offer. 

This will allow the care sector to ensure timely and safe transfer of patient or resident information during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. For care homes in particular, this will support the new hospital discharge process in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NHSmail offers a recognised secure email system, which will allow patient identifiable data to be shared with healthcare services.  There is also an opportunity for all NHSmail account holders to have access to Microsoft Teams, which offers an audio and video conference facility free of charge for a limited period to enable remote consultations during periods of social distancing. 

Guidance on the process for getting and activating an NHSmail account during this fast track period is provided in the documents below which you can download and print out.



Registering for an NHSmail account

The Digital Social Care website has full instructions for care providers on how to set up NHSmail via the fast track process, how to access and activate your account, plus a range of helpful resources including an NHSmail User Guide for Care Providers, videos addressing frequently asked questions and a regular webinar with live questions and answers. 

You might also find the guide below useful in helping you to complete the registration form.  It is essential that the form is completed properly as the process for creating accounts is automated, and any error could cause the application to be rejected and unnecessary delays.

Key tips

  • use only one form per care home site registered with the CQC i.e. a provider with multiple homes / sites will need to send a form for each home
  • individuals can only be linked to one site currently
  • ensure you provide mobile phone numbers not landlines. These are required for initial password and future password resets which are sent by text. They must be unique to the individual and can be hidden from view to other users on NHSmail. If they are not received, NHSmail cannot be set up.
  • email addresses must be unique to the individual, so private email addresses (e.g. Hotmail or Gmail) can be used. They are only used to send applicants their initial activation notice and user guide information.




Activating and using your account - key tips

  • Please ensure you insert 3 security questions when you activate your account to enable you to reset your password
  • Where possible, ensure that the answer to your security questions is no longer than 1 word in length, so that they are easier for you to remember.



Further Information

Care providers are not required to take up the offer of free NHSmail, although for the vast majority it is recommended at this time. At some point following the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, providers will need to go through the full DSPT process supporting them to accredit their own system and continue with NHSmail.

Secure email accreditation

This is also available as an alternative to NHSmail and can be used to demonstrate the security of an email system against the NHS secure email standard. However, this is a rigorous and lengthy process for an organisation to undertake with NHS Digital.

A number of large providers have already looked into accrediting their email systems through this process. A list of accredited organisation accounts that meet this standard are published by NHS Digital and can be accessed here: secure email accreditation


We strongly recommend that providers accept this current offer of NHSmail even if they are pursuing accreditation of their own email system given the urgency of the current situation.

Further information on NHSmail and the wider support being provided for Microsoft Teams can be found on the NHSmail portal

Providers who have accepted our recent offer of free access to an NHS accredited Office 365 E1 will be using an account which meets the national NHS secure email standard. 

Telephone helpline offers digital support for care providers

Digital Social Care have launched a telephone helpline to provide digital support to care providers affected during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Care providers can get help with troubleshooting technical problems as well as in depth one-to-one support. 

The helpline is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday by calling 0208 133 3430 or by email at help@digitalsocialcare.co.uk

Cybercrime and fraud

There has been a noticeable increase in cybercrime and fraud in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.  Find out more about the current scams and what to look out for.

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