This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

The waiting game

GPs must email patients instead of sending letters, says Hancock

GPs must send patients emails rather than letters, says health secretary Matt Hancock.

Speaking at an NHS England conference today, Mr Hancock said email must replace letters, arguing they are just as secure but also cheaper than communicating through paper and fax machines.

Clinicians should email patients directly with appointment information to reduce delays and cut wastage, he said.

This comes as part of the health secretary's digital vision for the NHS, which was heavily promoted in the NHS long-term plan.

NHS organisations will be able to use 'any secure email provider – not just NHSMail – if it meets the required security settings', according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

This will allow NHS organisations to 'choose the best service for their needs' and will encourage email providers to 'innovate', it added.

In his speech, Mr Hanock said: 'Our mission now is to make it as easy as possible for GPs to communicate safely and securely with their patients and colleagues.

'There is no reason why a doctor cannot email a patient confidentially, for example with their test results or prescription, rather than make them wait days for a letter or ask them to come into the surgery. The rest of the world runs on email – and the NHS should too.'

In December last year, Mr Hancock announced fax machines would be phased out of the NHS, meaning that trusts can no longer buy them through the NHS supply chain.

As of last year, NHS trusts owned over 8,000 fax machines. Mr Hancock has instructed the NHS to be fax-free by 31 March 2020.


Readers' comments (24)

  • Dear Mr Hancock
    Go and f**k yourself
    (No doubt you will have an app for that.)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • could do worse than to ensure we are able to do it before saying we must!
    We are only allowed to email to patients with secure email addresses!!!
    and only if they agree.
    so we can't.
    anyway, GMC says we mustn't!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • today just seen a patient i referred by email and the out patient clinic she went to see could find no record of the email, even though we clearly sent it, had same issue last week for another referral. yesterday i gave a patient a paper copy of her recent test results to take with her to her clinic appt so i knew that the consultant would have the information they needed. this happens on a regular basis. computer systems regularly crash - as they did this weekend for 3 days. so no i won't be stopping using paper letters and fax machines for now till i get a 100% guarantee the system actually works. agree with alan totally. How dare anyone tell us how to do our job who has never worked in the NHS.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Vinci Ho

    Keep sending in your ‘robust’ opinions on this matter. I am sure there are many ‘friends’ of the Health Secretary monitoring on this platform right now .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • |d in vadar | Locum GP|14 Feb 2019 1:19pm

    lol don't be naïve. they could try and do it by diktat, and if that doesn't wash, they'll incentivise it. e.g. those surgeries that adopt it get paid a few extra quid. And some will fall for it. Entirely justifiable and appropriate use of taxpayer funds of course (NOT!). But that's what you get with state intervention/socialised..... :)

    Angus, or anyone else, still arguing for MORE state intervention, higher taxation, increased government spending???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We all are Christopher!
    Again slightly off topic!
    Clearly Hancock has no inkling how general practice works!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Then you're a fool, DrDeath. If you don't want the state to govern how GP works, then you can't have the state funding it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Ah, Christopher my old friend. You know- if you actually worked in this country I might value your opinion.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Alan Almond spot on.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Angus, I do. And I value yours, cos its so easy to destroy it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say