The NHS has urged pharmacists in England to sign up to its secure email service following an upgrade on Friday (25 July).
NHSmail, provided by the NHS Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and run by Vodafone, had been improved to make it easier for pharmacists, optometrists and dentists to register for it, HSCIC said.
Pharmacists would now have "full control" over their accounts and could use the service without having to access N3, the secure broadband network used by the NHS. They would also be able to change their password without using an N3 connection, HSCIC said.
The roll out of NHSmail to a wider range of healthcare professionals was part of HSCIC's commitment to improve the secure transfer of patient information across the health service, it said. As the health service began to use more non-NHS organisations to deliver care, commissioners were making a secure way of sharing information a requirement for providers, HSCIC added.
NHSmail is already used by more than 600,000 health and social care staff in England and Scotland as a replacement for paper-based processes and to speed up patient care. HSCIC was aware of more than 800 pharmacists, optometrists and dentists who had independently signed up to the service, although it said "many more" had registered through their NHS trust or CCG.
To register for an NHSmail account, pharmacists need to fill out an online form and email it to their regional NHSmail contact, who can be found on the HSCIC website. Pharmacists who work for a national chain will still need to apply for an account individually.