Around 3 years ago, I wrote an article, complaining about the tediousness and illegality of NHSmail, the compulsory email service that I am forced to use daily. At the time, filled with self righteousness, I emailed a copy of my rant to NHS.net support.
It took two years… but they replied to me, so I thought I would include the email below, to those of you annoyed by many of the same features.
Whilst I don’t think it answers many of the points I put out, I do understand that they are on a limited budget: indeed, the whole future of the nhs.net system was put under threat under funding issues 12 months ago.
Ultimately, the bit that was most irritating, and that which strayed most from evidence, was the monthly password changes, which have since been changed to quarterly. So basically, I think I won.
Enjoy the letter below…
Thank you for taking the time to respond to our user survey.
I have been asked to contact you regarding NHSmail accessibility.
NHSmail has been designed as an accessible product for use by NHS staff and to be primarily accessed from an NHS location/device. When accessing NHSmail from an NHS location as part of local information governance requirements this can only be done from an NHS device which must have protection against malicious software such as keystroke logging software. Visually impaired or blind NHS staff can easily access the service from an NHS location/device where no on screen keyboard is displayed with either a desktop email programme such as Outlook or through the web browser which is AAA/AA compliant and both work very well with JAWS.
In addition to access from an NHS location the service does support incidental internet use subject to compliance with local information governance policies. As someone could potentially logon from an unsecured internet end point such as an Internet café there is a real risk of the users password being intercepted by key logging software which is why we had to utilise the on screen keyboard.
Visually impaired or blind NHS members of staff can also take advantage of incidental internet use in a number of ways all subject to compliance with local information governance requirements. As with NHS access, Outlook provides the best user experience with JAWS which has been confirmed by our many visually impaired/blind users of email. Mobile devices can also be used. The iPhone has for example a good built in capability and the TALKS software also works well with NHSmail. Finally should there be a specific requirement to not use Outlook e.g. local information governance requirements then we would expect the member of staff to raise this with their employer as part of their workstation assessment and request the ability to remotely access the NHS network from their device.
I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year.
While we have the same governance and financial constraints as the rest of the NHS we do strive to offer the best service we can. I note for example your comments on the password policy which was changed to a 90 day expiry period requiring only 4 changes a year. In terms of the password requirements we use the standard built in policy that comes with the product which is used by most NHS and business systems which is again in response to user feedback less complicated than it used to be.
If you would like to discuss this or indeed anything else about the service please feel free to call me.
NHSmail Technical Architect