With effect from 1st July 2015, all SMS messages sent by Primary Care organisations via their NHSMail accounts (using sms.nhs.net) are being delivered by EE, and paid for centrally by NHS England. This arrangement will continue until 30th September 2015, when central funding by NHS England will cease, and responsibility for funding of SMS usage will pass down to CCGs.
Recently, MJog has been approached by many practices who are concerned that their Patient messaging service may either be disrupted, or even terminated, due to a lack of funding to cover their SMS messaging after 30 September 2015; messaging which plays a crucial role in reducing DNAs, and providing patients with self care advice and achieving their QOF targets.
Recent communications sent to CCGs from NHS England (addressed to Chief Financial Officers, Financial Directors and LOAs) have stated that SMS messaging is considered a ‘Core IT’ service for Patients, and therefore CCG budgets for GP IT have been increased by 2% above the 2014/2015 budgets. This is to ensure CCGs are able to locally fund SMS usage by their GPs, and allow for a seamless and continued SMS service to both practices and patients.
In addition, the contract between NHS England and EE, which allows SMS segments to be purchased for 1.55p is being novated to all CCGs (by CCG request) to allow them to purchase SMS at substantially discounted prices from normal market rates. This will allow an entirely seamless transition path for all Primary Care sites who wish to keep using their current systems to send SMS and the delivery path to Patients, as currently via sms.nhs.net and EE.
What do you need to do now?
1. It is important that your CCG immediately informs NHS England that they wish to be included in the novation of the contract with EE, by sending a written request to email@example.com.
2. Then your CCG should contact EE (via firstname.lastname@example.org) to setup a CCG account, in readiness for 1st October 2015. This will allow your CCG to seamlessly take over funding of your SMS provision, and take full advantage of the same low SMS rates as NHS England, paid for using your additional 2% GP IT budget!