These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) apply to community pharmacy, dentistry, social care organisations, optometry and Dispensing Appliance Contractors (DACs) users in England who are managed by the National Administration Service (NAS).
National Administration Service (NAS) contacts
|Organisation type||Contact email|
|Community pharmacies and dispensing appliance email@example.com|
|Social care firstname.lastname@example.org|
How to reinstate a deleted account
Deleted mailboxes in Exchange Online can only be restored up to 30 days from the point of deletion.
Please email the National Administration Service from the shared mailbox to authorise the reinstating of the deleted account by providing the following information:
- email address
- deleted account user’s mobile number
If the account cannot be reinstated, the user will need to apply for a new account.
Unable to access shared mailbox
What to do if you are unable to access a shared mailbox for your organisation
If nobody in your organisation can access the shared mailbox, you will need to contact the National Administration Service (NAS) with the following information, for:
- Community Pharmacies and Dispensing appliance contractors contact 0333 200 1133 from the pharmacy store telephone number.
- Dental Practices contact 0333 200 1133 from the practice telephone number.
- Social Care organisations contact 0333 200 1133 from the care site telephone number.
- Optometry organisations contact email@example.com
Initial registration and set-up
What is NHSmail and how do I register for an NHSmail account?
The NHSmail service is the national secure collaboration platform for health and social care. The capabilities that the service provides will transform the way you collaborate within and outside of your organisation.
The service is based on Microsoft Exchange 2013 and provides users with a 4GB mailbox as standard. Users can access the service via desktop mail applications, Outlook Web App (OWA) and mobile devices.
Guidance is available on the NHSmail support site on how to join NHSmail.
What should I do if I already have an NHSmail user account?
You must not apply for another user account via the NHSmail registration portal as this will create a duplicate account, causing confusion with your colleagues. The NHSmail registration portal should only be used for those that do not already have an NHSmail account. If you require access to the premises shared mailbox, the shared mailbox owner can grant you access once the shared account has been created.
How do I activate my personal NHSmail account?
Using your username (received via email) and a temporary password (sent to the mobile phone number supplied upon registration), you can activate your NHSmail account as outlined below:
- Go to .nhs.net
- Click the ‘Login’ button.
- Enter your NHSmail username (@nhs.net will be automatically populated for you).
- Enter the temporary password (sent to the supplied mobile phone)
- Set up a new password, accept the NHSmail Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and set up security questions upon request.
Note: You do not need to activate a shared mailbox.
Why is my mobile phone number needed to set up my account?
A mobile phone number needs to be provided when applying for an NHSmail account as temporary passwords are sent via a text message.
It is important that this mobile phone number is only used once within the registration portal as the number will also be used to check that an account for you is not already in use. The phone number must be a mobile phone number and must be unique to you.
The mobile phone number provided as part of your NHSmail application will be hidden from the NHS Directory (People Finder) by default. You can choose to unhide your mobile number so that it appears in the NHS Directory by following the guidance on the NHSmail support site.
It is recommended you do not remove your mobile phone number as this will be used by the national administration team as part of the authentication checks for account administration purposes, such as resetting your password or unlocking your account.
What if I cannot take my mobile phone to work?
If you are unable to take your mobile phone to work and are unable to activate your account from a work computer, you can log into your account for the first time from a home computer.
You will receive an email to your personal email address which you supplied when registering which will contain your new email address and instructions on how to log into your account.
If you do not have a home computer or the internet you can set up your account when you are at work.
Do I need a password to use my NHSmail account?
Yes. Every individual requires their own username and password to access NHSmail for their personal mailbox. These will be sent to the personal email address and mobile phone number you supply when you apply for your account.
You will need to ensure your account remains active by logging into your account at least every 90 days otherwise it may be de-activated or removed from the service.
A password is not required to access a shared mailbox as this can be accessed once you have logged into your personal mailbox.
Further information on passwords is available on the NHSmail support site.
I have received my personal NHSmail account but not the shared NHSmail account – what should I do?
If you have received your personal NHSmail account and not your shared NHSmail account you should contact the National Administration Service providing your first and last name and organisation data services (ODS) code.
I have received my shared NHSmail account but not my personal NHSmail account – what should I do?
If you have received your shared NHSmail account and not your personal NHSmail account you should contact the National Administration Service providing your first and last name, organisation data services (ODS) code and the name of the organisation / site shared mailbox that you have been set up with.
My application has been rejected because my organisation does not meet the minimum requirement for the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. What should I do?
To join NHSmail, community pharmacies / DAC organisations and dental practices providers must have completed the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) to at least ‘Entry level’.
Social Care providers must have completed the DSPT Toolkit to ‘Approaching standards/higher level’.
Please note: Social care organisations have a DSPT waiver until June 2021. Optometry organisations have a DSPT waiver until March 2021.
Further information on DSPT is available on NHS Digital’s website.
Adding new users
How to add new users
To add new users, a request should be sent from the site/practice shared mailbox to the National Administration Service (NAS) with the following information:
- new user’s name
- new user’s mobile phone number (must start ’07)
- new user’s email address
- confirm if their account will be linked to the shared mailbox (not mandatory for social care or dentistry) and if the account will be an owner or member.
I need more than 10 user accounts within my organisation for business continuity – is this possible?
For pharmacy, dentistry and social care providers, you will need to request additional accounts by emailing your local NHS England Regional Teams from your NHSmail account with the number of accounts required and business justification.
If your request is approved, NHS England Regional Teams will need to email the National Administration Service and the NHSmail Digital Team stating that the additional accounts have been approved and ask for the account to be created. You will need to provide your personal mobile phone number as your password will be sent to you via a text message once the additional accounts are approved.
Dispensing Appliance Contractors (DACs) must request additional accounts via the process on the support site.
Joiners and Leavers
What should I do if I am joining an organisation and require an NHSmail account?
If you are joining a community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / social care organisation/ optometry and already have an NHSmail account, you will need to ensure your account has been joined to your new organisation after being marked as a leaver from your previous organisation. You can check this by contacting the National Administration Service.
If you are a community pharmacy or DAC user, you will also need to ask the shared mailbox owner to add your account to the premises shared mailbox (this is optional for dental practices and social care providers).
If you do not have an NHSmail account, you will need to inform the shared mailbox owner. If the organisation / site has less than 10 user accounts the shared mailbox owner will contact the National Administration Service to ask for your account to be created. You will need to provide the shared mailbox owner with your personal mobile phone number as your password will be sent to you via a text message.
If your organisation / site already has 10 user accounts, the shared mailbox owner will need to submit a request for an additional account by emailing your NHS England local area team, providing reasons for why more than 10 accounts are required. If your request is approved, NHS England will need to email the National Administration Service stating that the additional account has been approved and ask for the account to be created. You will need to provide your personal mobile phone number as your password will be sent to you via a text message.
Note: Dispensing Appliance Contractors (DACs) must request additional accounts via the process on the support site.
What should I do if I’m moving to another organisation or leaving the profession altogether?
If your account is administered by the National Administration Service (NAS)
If you are leaving your organisation you will need to notify the National Administration Service, who will mark your NHSmail account as a ‘leaver’. If you are moving to another community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / social care provider/ optometry organisation you will also need to inform them, so your account can be marked as a ‘joiner’ to your new organisation.
You will also need to notify the shared mailbox owner who will remove your NHSmail account from the shared mailbox for the organisation / site that you are leaving. Your NHSmail account can then be added to your new organisation by contacting the shared mailbox owner for that site. If you are the shared mailbox owner, you will need to email the National Administration Service or call 0333 200 1133 and ask for your permissions to be removed from the shared mailbox and advise who should now be added as the shared mailbox owner.
If you are leaving the community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dentistry / optometry/ social care profession or not taking up a new role at another organisation, please contact the National Administration Service who will mark your account as a ‘leaver’. Your account will be deleted after 30 days of being marked as a ‘leaver’.
If your account is administered by another organisation
If you are leaving your organisation you will need to notify your Local Administrator, who will mark your account as a ‘leaver’. If you are moving to another community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / social care provider/ optometry you will need to ask your new organisation to inform the National Administration Service by sending an email from the organisation’s shared mailbox and ask them to mark your account as a ‘joiner’.
If you are leaving the community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dentistry /optometry/ social care profession and no longer require an NHSmail account, your account will be deleted 30 days after being marked as a ‘leaver’. You should ensure any data required by your team is saved locally for them to access at a later date.
If you are a shared mailbox owner, you will need to ensure a new owner is identified and the National Administration Service team is informed.
Note: NHSmail accounts marked as ‘leavers’ are deleted after 30 days, if no new organisation is identified. Additionally, NHSmail accounts that are not utilised for 90 days become inactive and will be deleted after a further 90 days.
Further information can be found within the Leavers and Joiners Guide.
What is a shared mailbox?
A shared mailbox (also known as a generic mailbox) is allocated to each community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / social care site/ optometry practice and can be accessed by a group of users within that organisation. The shared mailbox can only be accessed via a user account.
Further information is available in the Shared Mailbox Guide for NHSmail.
How to access a shared mailbox
The following links provide guidance around the different ways you can access a shared mailbox your user account is linked to, either as a member or owner:
Shared mailbox owner role
Each community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / social care / optometry provider will have a nominated shared mailbox owner. The shared mailbox owner is responsible for controlling the access to the shared mailbox for the site.
- NHSmail users can be a shared mailbox owner for more than one shared mailbox.
- Shared mailboxes can have more than one owner where this is required for business continuity purposes.
Shared mailbox owners are also responsible for:
- Contacting the national administration service to arrange for new users within their community pharmacy / DAC organisation / dental practice / optometry / social care site to be set up with NHSmail accounts
- Cascading log in usernames and passwords for new NHSmail users
- Supporting new users to log in to their account for the first time
- Providing access permissions to the shared mailbox for all staff within their organisation
- Ensuring that all staff adhere to the Data Security and Protection Toolkit
- Removing access permissions to a shared mailbox for leavers.
Shared mailbox permissions
All users who have access to the shared mailbox will have ‘Send As’ permission allowing them to open the shared mailbox, view incoming emails and send emails from the shared mailbox email address. The email message will appear to have been sent from the shared mailbox and will have no affiliation to the user’s personal email address.
The shared mailbox owner will have additional access rights to control all user permissions within the mailbox and to add and remove users.
Further information on shared mailbox permissions is available on the support site.
What happens if we cannot email from the shared mailbox?
If you cannot email from the shared mailbox, for example, if the members/owners have become inactive, they can reactivate their account by logging into their NHSmail account.
If the shared mailbox members/owners are no longer present, please contact the National Administration Service to go through authentication options to enable the linking of new users to the mailbox.
What if I don’t monitor my organisation’s shared mailbox?
An unmonitored shared mailbox is a risk as time sensitive information may be sent to it (for example, drug alerts). Unmonitored shared mailboxes should have one of the following in place:
- an auto-reply to advise senders the mailbox is not monitored
- an auto-direct to a monitored NHSmail account
Can I change my organisation’s shared mailbox email address?
You cannot change the organisation shared mailbox email address. All shared mailboxes have the following naming convention.
|Community Pharmacy||Shared mailbox email address||pharmacy.ODScode@nhs.net|
|Display name||Pharmacy.ODScode (Pharmacy name, Town)|
|Dentistry||Shared mailbox email address||dental.ODScode@nhs.net|
|Display name||Dental.ODScode (Dental practice name, Town)|
|Social Care||Shared mailbox email address||care.ODScode@nhs.net|
|Display name||Care.ODScode (Care home name, Town)|
|Optometry||Shared mailbox email address||optometry.ODScode@nhs.net|
|Display name||Optometry.ODScode (Optometry name, Town)|
I’m an extended hours contractor. How many people can access the shared mailbox in my organisation?
There is no restriction on the number of users who can access a shared mailbox providing each individual has a personal NHSmail account and that any additional accounts have been approved by your NHS England area team lead.
What do I need to do if my organisation already has a shared mailbox sponsored by another organisation?
The shared mailbox can be transferred to your current organisation however, the display name will change. The previous name will remain linked to the account as an alias indefinitely.
You will need to contact one of your Local Administrators and ask them to mark the account as a ‘leaver’ and then contact the National Administration Service requesting that your shared mailbox be joined to the relevant organisation.
Note: This will need to be completed within 30 days, as accounts marked as a ‘leaver’ are deleted after 30 days if not joined to an organisation.
The organisation’s short display name prefix on the shared mailbox will be updated to the new organisation. Please see an example below for a community pharmacy shared mailbox transfer.
Original shared mailbox sponsored by NHSabc trust:
Once this is transferred to the new organisation it will appear as:
Note: Old email aliases are retired but will still work for receiving email.
I am a shared mailbox owner, what is my mobile phone number used for?
Shared mailbox owners are required to supply a mobile phone number that they have access to and to be the primary point of contact for the National Administration Service to liaise with if, for example, another user in their organisation forgets their password and is unable to answer their security questions and they do not have a mobile phone number that can be used as part of the authentication process.
What is the NHS Directory?
The NHS Directory (People Finder) provides a single source of contact information for health and social care. The directory is available via the NHSmail Portal and provides the ability to search for people based on a number of different profile attributes for example, name, clinical speciality and location.
You can search for shared mailboxes and distribution lists using the Organisation Data Service (ODS) code, location and postcode.
What if I forget my password, am unable to answer my security questions and do not have a mobile phone number which can be used as authentication?
You will need to speak to the shared mailbox owner of your premises account and they will need to contact the National Administration Service, to confirm they can authenticate you, and ask them to reset your password.
The National Administration Service will ask the shared mailbox owner to confirm the mobile phone number for the temporary password to be sent to. It is the responsibility of the shared mailbox owner to ensure local validation checks on individuals have been completed.
How often do I need to log into my NHSmail account?
To ensure your personal NHSmail account is not marked as inactive and removed from the NHSmail service, you need to log into your account at least every 90 days.
Note: It is recommended that the account is accessed on a regular basis to ensure that all clinical referrals and urgent communications are received and processed in an appropriate and timely manner.
What is the response time when I email the National Administration Service?
The National Administration Service will endeavour to respond to your enquiry as soon as possible. The team is available from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.
Outside of these hours simple tasks like password resets can be performed by yourself or the national NHSmail helpdesk via email or by calling 0333 200 1133 – the helpdesk is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
What is a user mailbox?
User accounts enable NHSmail users to access emails – they are allocated on an individual basis, per user.
Users of NHSmail must not share their email account password or allow a colleague to use their account. If a colleague without NHSmail needs to use an NHSmail account, a new account must be applied for.
How can I find out more about managing my mailbox quota?
You should regularly check and keep within the quota of your mailbox, as when your mailbox is over quota you will not be able to receive or send emails.
Information is available in the guide Manage your mailbox quota.
How do I view and download attachments via the NHSmail Portal?
To view and download attachments from your NHSmail account, via the NHSmail Portal, you must be using a private computer. Ensure that when you log into NHSmail you check the box next to the statement ‘This is a private computer’, and then sign in.
Dentists – frequently asked questions
How should a dental practice use NHSmail?
NHSmail can be used as the sole email solution for a practice, or it can be used alongside another email service.
It is important, however, that any sensitive information is sent by an email service that meets the secure email standard, such as NHSmail.
Further information is available on the benefits of NHSmail.
Where can I find out more about NHSmail interaction with dental software?
You can find out more about how NHSmail interacts with other applications by reading the Applications Guide.