NHS England to support SMS for primary care organisations until September 2015

The Department of Health has made a decision to withdraw central funding for NHSmail SMS and fax services for all organisations on 31 March 2015.  However, NHS England has now formally agreed to support a replacement SMS service for primary care organisations that use the current NHSmail SMS service (including Clinical Commissioning Groups, GP practices, Pharmacists, Optometrists, Dentists) until 30 September 2015. NHS England have taken this decision  to provide additional time for existing primary care services, to make provisions with general practices, to transition this to a local service from 1st October 2015.

Further communications about the new email to SMS service will be cascaded by NHS England when finalised.  This will be a separate service from the NHSmail email service.

NHS England will continue to explore how best to migrate to a local funding model for SMS post September 2015.  Further details will be provided in early 2015 to enable organisations to plan accordingly.

The existing service provider (Vodafone) will continue to provide the SMS service until 1 July 2015. If you have any issues with your current service during this period, you should follow your existing helpdesk process.

NHS England are providing an SMS service for existing users only, until 1 October 2015, should you wish to provide an SMS service for new users within your organisation, you may wish to view the advice on procuring an SMS service.

Any further questions, please contact:


  1. Paula Warwicker says:

    Devastated to lose texting service. I text my doctors all the time rather than phoning them … they could be in meetings or with patients, so texting doesn’t interrupt them, it’s ideal. Patients also appreciate being texted about various things.

    So what method do I use to get hold of them now … bongos????? Gutted.
    NHS is making life harder and harder for both staff and patients, no wonder we all get so stressed in our lives. Thank you very much. Grrrrr.

    • Digital Primary Care Team, NHS England says:

      It is important to note that the SMS texting service is not being stopped. The SMS texting service is going to be chosen locally to allow it to more closely reflect and address the healthcare needs of the local population. NHS England is working to support organisations and ensure that the transition to a local service of their choice is successful.

      Should you have any questions, please contact the team on

  2. ALPA MAHATMA says:

    We work in GP Practice from today we cannot see SMS option on our Email I note that the service was extended to 1 10 2015
    Please advise how can we send SMS to patient

    • Joanne Smith says:

      It is disappointing that nothing appears to be put into place for the SMS texting service. Has anyone managed to get it up and running again following 1/4/2015????

    • NHS England says:

      Hi Alpa Mahatma

      The existing service provider (Vodafone) will continue to provide the SMS service until 1st July 2015. If you have any issues with your current service during this period, you should follow your existing helpdesk process.

      Kind Regards
      NHS England

      • Kate Deaville says:

        Our SMS service stopped abruptly last week. I used our existing helpdesk process, as suggested, and was directed to NHS England Customer services. I was then redirected to our Area Team, I was then redirected to our Service desk again, who redirected me to NHS England. Who can I call to fix this – it is a useful and valuable service for both staff and patients. Regards Kate

  3. D Wildman says:

    Really disappointed to lose SMS

  4. T Bowyer says:

    I am really disappointed that the text feature is being stopped for secondary care very soon and know it will impact on our care. As a nurse in secondary care, sometimes we cannot get hold of patients by calling them – often people don’t want to answer a call if the number is withheld as it is in my Trust – so a message to patients via text is a great way to be able to contact them and they have your details to call back easily. We also deal with a population which is very hard to reach, so extra one of text reminders will enable us to help them more. I know individual areas can make their own arrangements, not convinced that this will happen due to never ending budget constraints.

  5. Patricia McSorley says:

    I work in the audiology service and text messaging is a vital service in communicating with patients who are hard of hearing or deaf. Is there an alternative service being put in place for Barts Health?

  6. Jackie Melarkey says:

    Dear Colleague,

    We are a Community provider contracted to provide NHS Community Services by our CCG, NHS North East Essex.
    We use Systmone and work on a retained ownership basis (which was decided historically for all of EoE SHA areas) where the CCG effectively owns the Systmone units under the LSP contract and we access the units as a provider of services under contract. Therefore do we as a provider have to find our own SMS / FAX solutions when NHS Mail stops it at the end of March or should we not fall under whatever is put in place for CCGs, GPs etc and be able whatever is established those organisations can use?

    Kind regards
    Jackie Melarkey
    Lead Systems & Information

  7. karen montrose says:

    We wish to contiur to use or a similar service and would like notification that our request has been accepted

    thank you

  8. David Charles says:

    Please keep us informed of the new SMS developments and new provider – thank you

  9. Angela Crowley says:

    So, from the above notification re SMS & Fax, this seems to say that only SMS will be supported going forward – please would you clarify if will be supported at all during this period, or will be be unable to use this fax service from 31 March.

    Many thanks


  10. Dr Mike Walton says:

    We need clear communications from NHS England and HSCIC as to processes for Peimary Care use of SMS via NHSnet post 1/4/15 which include our GPSOC lot 1 Core IT software (EMIS, SystMOne, Vision and Microtest). Our business continuity and clinical safety of patients is reliant upon SMS sent *from within our clinical software, via NHSnet*. We need assurances from NHSE, HSCIC and GPSOC system suppliers that there is no risk post 1/4/15 to the care of our patients.