New NHS guidance tells GPs how to use instant messages during crises

14 November 2018

NHS England has urged caution to medical staff using instant messaging services to communicate during a crisis, while telling them they are a 'vital tool' in such instances.

New guidance published today has asked doctors and nurses using apps like Viber, Telegram, Signal or WhatsApp to only use those that meet the NHS encryption standard and to ensure that no one else has access to their phone while it still has confidential patient information on it.

They have also been told to verify the identity of the person or group before beginning a conversation, include as little patient data in the messages as possible, and to delete this information from their mobiles as soon as it has been added to the relevant medical record.

The new guidance has been published by the NHS England jointly with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

It was reviewed by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust consultant anaesthist Dr Helgi Johannsson, who set up an instant messaging group in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire to coordinate the hospital’s response.

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