This article contains frequently asked questions about NHSmail and NHS Care Identity sign in, including guidance around getting started and using a NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account for authentication to access NHSmail Portal and Office 365 applications via a web browser.
- Getting Started
- Registering a NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account
- Issues and Troubleshooting
- Compatibility Matrix
- Help & Support
Smartcards are similar to chip and PIN bank cards and enable healthcare professionals to access clinical and personal information appropriate to their role.
A Smartcard used in conjunction with a passcode, known only to the smartcard holder, gives secure and auditable access to national and local Spine enabled health record systems.
Not all users will have access to a Smartcard; find out if you can order a Smartcard and Smartcard reader.
NHS Care Identity Service, formerly known as NHS Identity, makes use of current technology to provide a number of ways for health and care professionals in England to authenticate their identity when accessing national clinical information systems.
This will help to transform the way mobile workers can securely access clinical information at the point of need using a range of devices.
All of our solutions will make use of multifactor authentication, which currently provides the most secure model of authentication. This incorporates the principles of “something the user has” in their possession, for example a Smartcard, an approved device, and “something the user knows or is”, for example a pin code or biometrics.
Learn more about NHS Care Identity Aims and Benefits.
Registering a NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account
If you want to start using your NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) to log in to NHSmail Portal and Office 365 applications, please make sure you meet the below pre-requisites first:
- User has an active nhs.net account.
- User has accepted NHSmail Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
- User has an active NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account.
- User has got Credential Management System deployed on their machine and uses a compatible web browser.
If you meet all the above pre-requisites, you’ll be able to register your NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account.
Contact a Local Administrator in your organization if you have issues with your nhs.net account.
Follow these steps to accept NHSmail Acceptable Use Policy.
If you meet the above pre-requisites, you will be able to register your Smartcard and use it to log in to the NHSmail Portal and Office 365.
The new NHSmail sign in page with the additional option to log in with a NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account will be available in November (exact date to be determined).
Follow up comms will be released to let you know the exact date.
It is possible to use a Smartcard on a shared device. For more information, read this article on using NHSmail on shared computers.
Follow this ‘step-by-step guidance’ to unlink your NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account from your NHSmail account.
A NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account supersedes multifactor authentication and therefore you will not be prompted for MFA when signing into NHSmail services with your Smartcard.
However, we do recommend that you enable and register to MFA to benefit from a higher protection on your account.
For more information, read this article which contains the benefits of authenticating via your Smartcard.
Issues and Troubleshooting
Once you log in to the NHSmail Portal or O365 applications, the system will keep the session open for 8 hours. Therefore, you will not be requested to insert your Smartcard into the reader and type in the PIN during this time unless you close the web browser or restart your computer.
When ready, we encourage you to:
- Sign out of NHSmail Portal and O365.
- Close all browser tabs and windows.
- Sign out of the device.
Microsoft Outlook and Teams desktop applications are currently not supported and therefore you will not be able to log in using your NHS Care Identity (Smartcard) account.
Please use your nhs.net emails address and password instead.
If your device operating system has been updated or reset, we recommend you to re-configure your device to work with NHS Care Identity.
Check how to configure your device to work with NHS Care Identity or contact a Local Administrator in your organisation.
Some organisations have a set up rule for the Terms and Conditions and the National Health Service Spine Portal to pop-up as new tabs in your default browser once you have authenticated using your Smartcard. If you have already accepted the T&Cs, this pop-up should not reappear.
As a security feature, your default browser will be closed automatically when you remove your Smartcard from the reader and the session is terminated.
As a security feature, your Smartcard will not work in incognito mode. You will need to use the normal browser session to use your Smartcard.
Microsoft Outlook, Teams and other locally installed Microsoft Office applications are currently not supported for NHS Care Identity login.
Follow this ‘step-by-step guidance’ to register your NHS Care Identity (Smartcard).
The current version of NHS Credential Management does not support the use of Internet Explorer 11 or Firefox. We strongly recommend that you use NHS Credential Management with either Chrome or the Chromium version of Edge.
Check the configurations recommended by Care Identity Authentication for further information.
You will be able to register a Smartcard to just one NHSmail account at the same time. If you have been given a new NHSmail account, you can follow this ‘step-by-step guidance’ to unlink your NHS accounts before registering your new one.
We recommend to wait a few minutes and trying again before continuing with the troubleshooting.
There are different reasons why you might not be able to log in to the Link My NHS Accounts Portal:
- You have incorrectly entered your password several times and your account can be locked. Please contact a Local Administrator in your organisation to check and unlock your account.
- You might be using an account that is currently disabled. Please contact a Local Administrator in your organisation to confirm your NHSmail credentials.
- Your account has been recently created and you haven’t accepted the Acceptable Use Policy. Please follow these steps to accept NHSmail Acceptable Use Policy.
- Your device clock might not be correctly set up. You can open your device settings and confirm the clock is running correctly. Please contact a Local Administrator in your organisation if you require further assistance.
- You might not have installed NHS Credential Management System. Please contact a Local Administrator in your organisation to confirm you device meets this pre-requisite.
If you are trying to log in and can not see “Log in with my Care Identity” button, it is likely because:
- You are using a mobile, tablet or other incompatible device.
- You are using a Microsoft Desktop application to log in (for example, Microsoft Outlook 2016, 2019 or Office 365; Ms Teams, Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc).
- You are trying to login into a system or application that currently do not support this authentication.
Please see below OS Compatibility Matrix:
|iPad (Safari Only)
|All iPhone/MacOS versions
Please see below Browser Compatibility Matrix:
Internet Explorer 11
If you require additional support with OS/Browser compatibility, please contact the National Service Desk on 0300 3035035 or raising a call using the National Service Desk tool (HSCN connection required).
If your Smartcard has been lost or stolen, follow the below 2 steps:
- Contact your Local Registration Authority.
- Call or email the Helpdesk as soon as possible to raise a priority incident to remove the access to NHSmail and O365 using your Smartcard. You can also contact a Local Administrator in your organization who will be able to raise this incident on your behalf. We would require your nhs.net email address and if possible, your Smartcard number.
If you are moving or leaving your current organisation, follow the guidance to unlink your NHS Care Identity account and then please follow your local organisation’s leaver process and return your Smartcard as instructed.
Help & Support
For any issues or queries, please contact a Local Administrator at your organisation in the first instance.
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