Instant messaging

Published on: 27th April 2020 | Updated on: 22nd December 2023

Instant messaging is a type of communication in which messages are sent from one computer/device to another enabling two persons at different locations to pass messages backwards and forwards on a live basis.

The message appears immediately on the screen of the device you send it to, provided the computer is using the service.

Data security

NHS guidance previously stated that: “It is absolutely fine to use mobile messaging to communicate with colleagues and patients/service users as needed. It is also fine to use commercial, off-the-shelf applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram where there is no practical alternative and the benefits outweigh the risk. The important thing, as always, is to consider what type of information you are sharing and with whom. And as much as possible limit the use of personal/confidential patient information.” (NHSX COVID-19 IG advice for health and care professionals as of April 2020).

NHS England’s Transformation Directorate (NHSE’s TD) guidance says: “Selecting a or consulting tool: From an IG perspective, any video conferencing or consulting tool can be used provided there has been an appropriate local risk assessment.

List of suppliers

NHSX have referenced potential use of WhatsApp and Telegram (see data security section) or equivalent products. (NHSX COVID-19 IG advice for health and care professionals as of April 2020). Many products are available.

NHSmail MS Teams

NHSmail users were notified that Microsoft Teams usage was enabled for them from March 2020 for a free period. This was intended to support collaborative work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For organisations that run NHSmail, all users will have access to Teams, subject to local administration and configuration.

Microsoft Teams includes instant messaging functionality. This can be used between two NHSmail users from different health and care organisations.

The free period was scheduled to last for three months initially which also included access to Office 365. The free period duration may be further reviewed given the ongoing pandemic.

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If you have queries about pharmacy usage of NHSmail Microsoft Teams please contact

Further info

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