NHS.net

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NHS.net is a Microsoft Outlook Web App email, diary and directory system for National Health Service (NHS) employees in England and Scotland. SMS messages and faxes can be sent from an email client or web interface. The system is not for patients of the NHS. Retired NHS staff do not have access.

Background[edit]

History[edit]

NHS.net e-mail initially offered 64Mb of storage.[1] In 2006 it was improved and storage space was unlimited.[2] Storage space has since been reduced to 400MB or 1GB depending on account service level.[3] In 2013 the storage was doubled for all users in response to feedback from them.

Underlying technology[edit]

The NHSmail system uses a customised version of Microsoft Exchange (2007).

Client-side access[edit]

Web interface[edit]

The web interface uses Outlook Web Access with a customised point-and-click password entry screen. The login URL for the webmail service is https://web.nhs.net.

Microsoft exchange[edit]

NHSmail may be accessed from the internet by Microsoft Outlook on Windows or Microsoft Entourage on Mac OS X. Auto-configuration is available if the user's e-mail address is provided.

A zip file containing Microsoft Outlook 2002 manual setup details can be downloaded from Tools->Outlook setup

Mobile devices which support Exchange email and calendar may be configured to use NHSmail email and calendar functions, either with native capability or by installing third party software. Whilst no mobile phones are officially supported by NHSmail the following devices are able to connect:[4]

  1. iPhone: iPhone 3GS and newer and all models of iPad. 2G and 3G models are blocked as they do not support encryption.
  2. Nokia devices: All Nokia devices with an Exchange client are able to connect, however most models do not support encryption and therefore their use breaches NHSmail security policies. Models that support encryption include: E52 E55 E63 E66 E71 E72 E75 E5 E7. Note: encryption at rest on these handsets has to be manually switched on.
  3. Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 devices: Windows Phone 7 does not support encryption and so should not be used.
  4. BlackBerry: connecting a BlackBerry device to NHSmail needs added software. Two options exist: AstraSync http://www.astrasync.com/NHSMail-Blackberry-ActiveSync.aspx and NotifySync[5]
  5. Android: It is also possible to access NHSmail from Android mobile devices. Encryption is only natively supported from version 3 (Honeycomb) onwards. Phones running earlier versions of Android need to install Touchdown software to enable encryption. To find out how to access NHS mail from an android device do the following; 1) log into web based version of nhs.net, 2) Click on the tools button (spanner and screwdriver), 3) click on "guidance" (bottom left), 4) Click on "training and guidance" - left hand column, 5) Click on "Mobile devices" then "Mobile access", 6) Scroll down to "NHSmail mobile configuration guide_Android devices.pdf (592 Kb)"

IMAP[edit]

Standards-compliant IMAP is available only from within the NHS internal network. The server is imap.nhs.net. The internal SMTP server is send.nhs.net.[6]

Standards-compliant connectivity over the internet was previously provided via the IMAP server imapmail1.nhs.net and the SMTP server smtp1.nhs.net. Standards-compliant internet access was removed in September 2009, breaking linux accessibility from the internet.[7][8] A Windows-only tunnelling application can restore internet access to IMAP. This application is Whale Communications (A Microsoft Subsidiary) Intelligent Application Gateway and is publicly accessible at https://client.nhs.net. The application is not available for 64-bit platforms.

IMAP access
Before September 2009 After September 2009
imap server imapmail1.nhs.net imap.nhs.net port 993[6]
smtp server smtp1.nhs.net send.nhs.net port 587[6]
Accessible on linux Yes No
Windows-only tunnelling application required No Yes

Security and insecurity[edit]

NHSmail has been approved for securely exchanging patient information by the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).[9] This endorsement is conditional on NHS organisations performing their own risk assessments of NHSmail’s use, and it is noted that it may not meet the security requirements of all organisations.

Emails that may contain Personally identifiable information, Sensitive information, or medical information have been assessed by the UK Government's Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) as requiring protection to Business Impact Level 4 (B-IL 4).[10] This was assessed in reference to CESGs guidance on Technical Risk Assessment for the UK Cabinet Office published as HMG IA Standard No 1 (IA1 - Technical Risk Assessment),[11] and defined by the potential distress or embarassment a breach of the system could cause NHS patients, as given in the Impact Level table on Page 54 of the Standard.[11]

The current NHSmail services have (with a waiver allowing access from uncontrolled end points over the internet) been assessed as providing a level of security consistent with B-IL 3.[10] The B-IL 3 rating will be maintained with the introduction of NHSmail2,[11] however this rating is not consistent with CESGs requirements for protecting personal information of this sensitivity.

The service can be used to email a range of other Government email services such as the Home Office, secure local government services, Police, MoD etc.[12] Access to e-mail accounts can be provided voluntarily through a delegate option in Microsoft Outlook. Access may also be granted after local sign off from an HR director or CEO and the Programme Head for NHSmail.[12]

Tag lines[edit]

Mail sent through NHS.net may have a 15-line tag line appended to the end of the message.[8]

NHSmail 2[edit]

In 2013 the owning organisation (then NHS Connecting for Health) announced that they were looking to replace the existing NHSmail service as the contract was due to come to an end. In January 2014 the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) confirmed that a business case for replacing the service had been approved by The Department of Health and Treasury. The current service will run until the new one is procured, with transition due to take place during 2015.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Computers in Psychiatry Extra - Chapter 11, Electronic Mail. The Royal College of Psychiatrists. 2012-06-01. URL:http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/publications/books/rcpp/1904671217/extra1904671217/cipch11-electronicmail.aspx. Accessed: 2012-06-01. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/686WkgcMH)
  2. ^ Katie Fletcher. Contact---More than just another e-mail address? BMJ Careers 1 Jul 2006
  3. ^ Connecting for Health. NHSmail myth buster. 2012-06-01. URL:http://www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/systemsandservices/nhsmail/summyth. Accessed: 2012-06-01. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/686WztIL5)
  4. ^ "Mobile access to NHSmail Guidance for accessing your NHSmail account from your mobile device" Last Updated: 30 November 2009 nhs.net online documentation (not publicly accessible) retrieved 7 December 2009
  5. ^ NHS.notifysync.co.uk
  6. ^ a b c NHS-GP. Configuring Thunderbird for NHS net. 2012-06-01. URL:http://linuxgp.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/configuring-nhs-net-for-thunderbird.html. Accessed: 2012-06-01. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/686XEanKP)
  7. ^ Grant Forrest. When Microsoft Broke NHS Mail. URL:http://www.grantforrest.me.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61:microsoftnhsmail&catid=45:articles&Itemid=57. Accessed: 2012-06-01. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/686X7HAvM)
  8. ^ a b Peter von Kaehne. Freedom of Information request. URL:https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=gp-uk;690d9b35.0903 (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6JGHfyd3C)
  9. ^ "NHSmail Endorsements", HSCIC. Accessed on 10 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b "NHSmail2 Requirements v1.9 - Section 3.4.4 Security Levels (Page 34)". Accessed on 10 April 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "HMG IA Standard No 1 (IA1 - Technical Risk Assessment)". Accessed on 10 April 2014.
  12. ^ a b Connecting for Health NHSMail Mythbuster URL:http://www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/systemsandservices/nhsmail/summyth. Accessed: 2013-08-31. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6JHjzn03c)
  13. ^ http://systems.hscic.gov.uk/nhsmail/future