The Surgery has introduced a text messaging service to our patients. This service has a number of aims and purposes.
The service will allow the following:
- For patients to receive results and cancel appointments. This will reduce demand on telephone access for these items.
- For staff at the surgery to send reminders for appointments. This should reduce the number of missed appointments at the surgery.
- For staff to send basic medication information (e.g. changes in tablets or dosage). This will cut down on the quantity of letters sent to patients and speed up time for messages to be received.
- To allow targeted health promotion campaigns – for example, sending messages to attend for certain health checks (e.g. blood pressure), to notify patients of certain clinics (e.g. Flu Clinics) and to record basic medical information (e.g. smoking status).
Patients who receive a message can text back a reply which arrives at the surgery as an email. This would include cancellation of routine appointments which would then allow the slot to be offered to another patient.
Patients will however not be able to use text messages to request appointments, prescriptions, results or medical advice.
Whilst we accept this service may not benefit all our patients, current industry research suggests >80% of the adult population own a mobile phone.
In order for this service to be successful we need to ensure that we have mobile phone numbers for the majority of our patients and they are happy to participate in this service.
Accessing the Service
A welcome message will be sent to all registered patients offering an opportunity to opt out of the service. Patients can subsequently opt in or out of the service at any time, as requested.
We would be grateful if you could indicate your preference for the proposed service when you next attend the surgery and provide a current mobile number (whether opting in or out of the service).
The Surgery cannot accept responsibility for breaches of confidentiality due to information sent to the registered number you have provided. Since any information sent may be of a sensitive nature, it is important to ensure that you have adequate safeguards on your phone to prevent unauthorised access to your text messages (e.g. with a security code or password).
In addition, you have a responsibility to inform the surgery if you change your phone number. Please be especially mindful of this if you are giving your old phone to somebody else. If your phone is stolen, please contact the surgery and we will cease sending messages to that registered number.
We can assure you that all patient details are completely secure and only accessible by authorised staff. The messaging service itself is hosted within NHS Net (as used by many NHS organisations) and adheres to all necessary confidentiality guidelines and the Data Protection Act 1998.