NHS mail is a secure email service, approved for the transmission of patient data. NHS mail addresses have the suffix @nhs.net.
Please note that emails will only be secure if both the sender and the recipient have email addresses ending in @nhs.net. (An exception applies to performers holding Egress accounts – see below)
Scroll down for details of email addresses that may be used for local referrals.
How to get an NHS mail address
NHSmail is available to all GOS Ophthalmic Contractors (GOS) and their optometrists & dispensing opticians in England, that have 10 or fewer sites. It enables safe and secure exchange of patient or sensitive information with other health and social care professionals.
Upon joining NHSmail, each organisation will have one shared mailbox account and up to three user accounts per site.
National Administration Service (NAS)
GOS contractors can apply for NHSmail via the online portal below and be managed centrally through the NAS; a dedicated team that perform Local administrator functions.
Before registering, please ensure you have the following:
- ‘Standards Met’ or Standards Exceeded’ assessment published via the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT)
- Organisation Data Services (ODS) code – this can be confirmed by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Authentication code – provided by the NHS Business Services Authority
Find out more about NHSmail on their support site pages.
If you require further help completing this form, or for other NHS mail enquiries, please email: email@example.com
To register for any additional individual @nhs.net email addresses, contact NHS Digital on 0333 200 1133, explaining why the additional addresses are required.
Performers (whether employed or locum) will need to ask a contractor to apply for an individual address on their behalf. If the contractor has already been allocated his/her two individual addresses, this will need to be done via the method for additional addresses described above.
Alternatively, you may apply for an ‘Egress account‘, enabling you to send emails and documents securely to nhs mail addresses, using your non-nhs email address. This should allow you to send referral letters to hospitals and GPs. Complete this form to apply. An Egress account also enables you to receive emails from an nhs.net address, but the sender would have to be familiar with the system and use the correct protocol for these to be secure. Guides to Egress are available for non-NHS mail users and NHS mail users.
To regain access to an existing NHS mail account, please call NHS Digital on 0333 200 1133. If you’ve previously set up security questions on your NHS Mail account, you can reset your password here https://portal.nhs.net/forgotpassword/.
A condition of using an nhs.net account is the need to have completed the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit. If you are registering as part of a practice, only one person per practice needs to do this. For more information see our DSPT page and read this September 2021 update.
Please note that the NHS mail team have informed us that there is No requirement to complete the DSPT for those with just Egress accounts.
They say: Our application has no requirement for a submitted DSPT for Egress, nor do we ask them to complete it. This is only a requirement for those applying for NHS Mail.
NHS Mail – use it or lose it
NHS Digital has announced a change to the terms of usage for NHS mail accounts. Previously if accounts were not used for 90 days they would be marked as inactive and then deleted if not used after another 90 days.
These time periods are reducing. From 1 December 2022 if an account has not been used for 30 days it will be marked as inactive and deleted after a further 30 days. Deleted accounts can be restored for up to 30 days after that but will then be permanently deleted and you will have to apply again for a new NHS mail account.
To keep an account active you will need to ensure you carry out one of the following at least every 30 days.
o Log into the NHSmail portal
o Log into O365 application
o Use O365 applications (i.e., Outlook with cached credentials)
o Send an email
A pragmatic way to ensure your email stays active is to use Outlook to check your emails regularly which will prevent your account being deactivated.
If you already have an existing NHS email account and are unable to access it, please call 0333 2001133 for further assistance or visit the NAS FAQs.
NHS Mail help
If practices have an issue with an NHS mail address, they are sometimes being directed by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to LOCs, but these are not issues LOCs can resolve.
The NHSBSA has apologised for the confusion and provided new contact details for NHS mail issues.
Administration of NHS mail accounts can only be done by the National Administration Service (NAS)
•To request a new account if your account has been deleted please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• If you are unsure whether your account is still active, or you require support, you should first contact email@example.com
• Guides on how to register GOS contractors and performers (including locums), a user guide to NHS mail and some FAQs can be found here: https://support.nhs.net/article-categories/optometry/
• If you have not applied for an NHS mail account previously and wish to do so, that can be done via this link: https://forms.office.com/r/SzaDjwpZxM
Please note that if you are a GOS contractor with more than 10 practices, then the Egress encryption service remains the only solution at present. The Information and IT Committee secretariat is working to understand how and when a different solution will be in place. In the meantime, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you require more information.
NHS Email Security
In these times of increasing numbers of viruses, scams and hacks, NHS Digital are strongly advising that ALL users of NHS Email set up two factor authentication on their accounts.
This means you would use a code or authenticator app to log in to NHS mail, in addition to your account name and password. Doing this has been shown to drastically reduce the likelihood of your account being compromised. They advise to use a unique, impossible to guess password as well.
Local referral email addresses
How to email your referrals using NHS mail
Every health professional is personally responsible for protecting patient data. Please note that data that you send to an address ending in ‘@nhs.net’ is only secure if it is sent from an email address ending in ‘@nhs.net’ (or from an Egress account – see above). If you still don’t have such an address, find out how to get one here.
Here’s a reminder of addresses that you may use for your referrals (following the above advice). Before sending, please ensure that you are familiar with local referral protocols and using the correct referral forms where these are indicated.
MKUH booked urgent service (BUS) clinic email@example.com
MKUH wet AMD referrals firstname.lastname@example.org
SMH eye casualty email@example.com
SMH wet AMD referrals firstname.lastname@example.org
SMH routine referrals email@example.com
Bucks direct cataract referrals firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIP: If you need to find an address for another individual or organisation, eg another optometrist or a GP practice, try searching from the ‘People’ tab on your NHS mail inbox page.