Refresh Frequently Asked Questions

Browse the following FAQS for answers around the Refresh:

Refresh FAQs Answers
1 What is the NHSmail Refresh? The NHSmail is a body of work to provide health and care organisations across England with the ability to leverage Exchange Online services as well as access a range of new Office 365 applications. It will involve moving NHSmail mailboxes from the current Exchange on-premise service into Exchange Online.  Once completed, users will be able to access Office 365 services through a single ‘front door’ using just their NHSmail username and password
2 How long will it take to complete? The Refresh will take place between June and December 2020. This roadmap infographic provides additional detail on what has gone before as well as the next steps and timelines
3 When will my Refresh happen? Your Refresh will happen at any time between June and December 2020. You will be contacted to let you know when you have been scheduled, at this point it will happen within the next two weeks. Once completed, you will get another email letting you know it is done
4 Do I need to do anything to prepare? There are no technical steps required to prepare however, it is important to read through the guidance materials – specifically the Transition Guide linked here. This includes all of the information you need to know about the process – as well as instructions on how some things are changing. It is also worth familiarising yourself with your service support and local administrator contact information
5 How do I access email through OWA & Outlook after the Refresh? You will continue to access email through your normal routes following the Refresh. Those who access email through a browser can continue to use the same web links as before. There will be no change for Outlook desktop users – you just need to open the application to get started
6 How do I access email on my Mobile device after the Refresh? If you use the Outlook application on either iOS or Android, following the upgrade you will be required to delete and re-create your profile within the application in order to start receiving emails. Instructions on how to do this can be found here. If you use the native mail application on iOS you should automatically start receiving emails, if you don’t please contact your Local Administrator
7 Who do I contact if there are problems after the Refresh? If you encounter any issues following the Refresh, please use your normal escalation and service support routes. It is advised that you contact your Local Administrator should you encounter any issues; they have been provided access to troubleshooting guidance materials
8 I never received the ‘Refresh Complete’ email? For a number of different reasons, sometimes users will need to be re-scheduled for their Refresh. If this happens you won’t receive your ‘Refresh Complete’ email immediately. You will be contacted at a later date to let you know when you have been re-scheduled for
9 How large will my mailbox be? As with the NHSmail service today you will have a 4GB mailbox after the Refresh. Each organisation will have a small quota for larger mailboxes, your Local Administrator will be able to advise you on this
10 What new features will I get after the Refresh? Following the Refresh, you will get access to a range of new and exciting Microsoft Office 365 features. Check out the Features Introduction guide to get a feel of the applications available as well as links to online training resources
11 How do I access the new applications and services? To access the new services, visit and enter your NHSmail ( email address and password. Once logged in you will be able to select and open the various applications now included as part of NHSmail
12 Will I be able to interact with colleagues who have not undergone their Refresh yet? Yes, in the co-existence period you will be able to interact (send/receive) over email with colleagues who have not yet been upgraded. You will also be able to communicate over Teams as you do today
Why am I receiving a pop up when trying to send emails (externally), what do I press?  
Once you have been upgraded you may start to receive a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) alerts in Outlook and OWA. These policy tips will appear if the email you are attempting to send has been identified as containing sensitive information. If you wish to proceed, please click override and send the email. If not, you can remove the recipients and discard the email. Further guidance can be found here
14 What does the ‘migration pending’ status mean in the portal? After your migration, your portal status may read ‘migration pending’. This status means your mailbox is still being upgraded and prevents other portal actions occurring throughout the period of the move. You can still access your mailbox whilst in this status. Once your migration is complete the status will revert back to the status prior to the migration
15 What happens during the refresh if I have MFA enabled on my account? If you have Multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled on your account and you use the Outlook desktop client, you will need to follow the instructions outlined in this article to temporarily disable MFA following your upgrade and prior to the first launch of your desktop Outlook client. Local Administrators and users with MFA enabled will receive a scheduling email 1 week ahead of their upgrade slot, where the specific date on which to follow the MFA guidance will be provided
16 Why do I get a “something went wrong” error when I try and access my account through OWA following the NHSmail Refresh? To resolve the issue, you will need to delete your browsing history, cache and cookies, and then reattempt to access your NHSmail account via the web.

Going forward, we recommend using the following address to access your NHSmail account providing a richer O365 experience


 LA FAQs  Answers
1 Do LA’s need to do anything to prepare for the Refresh? Yes, there are a number of technical pre-requisite tasks that require completion in order to ensure a local organisations readiness for the NHSmail Refresh. These are outlined here. Working with your CIO and IT Directors, it is the LA’s responsibility to ensure these pre-requisite items are completed
2 Will LA’s go through the Refresh process first? Yes, the Local Administrator community is scheduled to go through the Refresh process before end users. This is to allow LA’s to get comfortable with the process and provide end user support based on their experience
3 Will I still manage my users through the NHSmail Portal? Yes, the NHSmail Portal has been updated to ensure that LA’s can manage both Exchange On-Premise and Exchange Online users as they do today. Additional information on some changes to the Portal functionality can be found here
4 How can I tell if a user has been through the refresh process? LA’s can see if an account has been refreshed by visiting the mailbox detail page on the NHSmail Portal. This now includes a field displaying either ‘Exchange Online’ or ‘Exchange On-Premise’ to allow easy identification of mailbox location
5 Are there any known issues / limitations to be aware of? There are some temporary functional changes to be aware of following the Refresh. Follow this link to understand more about each of these changes, including screenshots and examples to guide you. There are also some hints and tips outlined here, to help troubleshoot any problems end users may encounter
6 What O365 license will users get? All users on the platform will receive an O365 E3 Restricted license. This is a customised license SKU agreed between NHS Digital and Microsoft. Access to certain features will vary from what is outlined as a standard E3 on the Microsoft support pages
7 How does the E3 Restricted license differ from a normal E3 license? The E3 Restricted license includes a 4GB mailbox size as a standard; it does not provide access to Pro Plus and the downloadable version of Office. Further detail can be found in the LA Transition Guide here, including guidance on which applications are available
8 Can I enable / disable specific O365 applications? At the start of the Refresh process all users will get access to the default national O365 configuration as a standard. At a certain point, LA’s will be given access to update this (turn applications on/off) through user policy management in the NHSmail Portal. This functionality will be communicated to you when available
9 Can larger mailboxes be allocated to users? As part of the Refresh mailboxes will be set at 4GB as a standard. Any mailboxes larger than 4GB before the Refresh, will automatically be upgraded to 50GB. LA’s will be able to assign 50GB mailboxes for up to 10% of their organisation
10 What size allocation will my Shared and Resource Mailboxes receive following the NHSmail Refresh? All Shared and Resource mailboxes will receive a 50GB allocation as standard following the upgrade
11 What happens to existing mailbox top-ups? Existing mailbox top-ups will be removed as part of the migration process. Mailboxes larger than 4GB will automatically receive a 50GB limit and from then on LA’s will have the ability to manage top-ups as part of their 10% organisation quota
12 Where can I find more technical detail on the refresh? For more technical details, browse the LA Refresh Transition Guide which includes portal changes, features restrictions and how to solve post-migration issues.
13 What are the support routes available for issues encountered? Should you or any of your end users encounter issues, it is recommended to first read the temporary changes guide. It may be that it is related to an expected feature change. If not, there are some self-help steps outlined here, as well as technical troubleshooting guidance here. If none of the above help resolve the problem, you can raise a ticket to the NHSmail helpdesk through the existing channels as you do today
14 Will existing Hybrid users retain their current user policy settings? Yes, existing user policies setup for Hybrid users will be retained throughout the Refresh process. Users will keep their current application settings
15 Will Hybrid organisations retain their O365 licenses, including Add-On’s? Yes, Hybrid organisations that have procured and on-boarded their own O365 licenses and Add-On license types will retain these through the Refresh process. The only exception is F1 licenses, these will automatically be upgraded to the more feature rich and secure E3 Restricted license
16 What license types are supported on the platform? The below license SKU’s are supported on the platform and can be onboarded if required:
Office 365 E1
Office 365 E3
Office 365 E5Office 365 F1The following add-on license types are also supported:
Visio Online Plan 1
Visio Online Plan 2
Power Apps Per App
Power Apps Per User
Power Automate Per User
Power Automate Per Flow
Stream Plan 1
Stream Plan 2
Project Essential
Project Professional
Project Premium
PowerBI Free
PowerBI Pro
PowerBI PremiumMicrosoft Audio ConferencingMicrosoft Teams Room
17 Can I request a migration date for my users/Organisation? We are unable to accommodate individual and bespoke scheduling requests for the NHSmail Refresh. All users will receive an email to their account one week in advance of their upgrade window. If you would like to discuss further, please contact You can check whether a user has been migrated via the ‘mailbox location’ field recently added to the portal, instructions found here.
18 How can users enable POP3 or IMAP4 access to their Exchange Online mailboxes? Applications and Users that use the protocols IMAP ( and POP ( need to be updated to Exchange Online URLs (listed below) and update their clients once migrated.



19 What will happen to the existing email relays that are used for ‘Non-Outlook’ traffic? and are not changing as part of mass migration. Authenticated SMTP can be moved to Exchange Online instead of
20 How do I check if my users have been migrated? Local Administrators can generate a ‘mailbox report’ showing the location of their respective user mailboxes. To download, log into the NHSmail Portal and navigate through Reports > Admin Reports. From there, select your target organisation and Mailbox Report from the Report dropdown. Select Generate Report to download a CSV file. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found here.  
Features FAQs Answers
1 How much OneDrive storage will be available? It is recommended that end users utilise up to a maximum of 2GB of OneDrive storage
2 How much SharePoint storage will be available? SharePoint storage is allocated according to Organisation size. When attempting to create a SharePoint site through the NHSmail Portal, LA’s will be presented with their available SharePoint storage quota
3 How can we setup SharePoint sites? LA’s can setup a SharePoint site through the NHSmail Portal, instructions on how to do this can be found here. Once setup LA’s can allocate ownership to users at their discretion. Owners can then perform administrative functions directly in the SharePoint application (adding users, setting permissions etc.)
4 Can anybody set up a Team? No – only LA’s can setup Teams through the NHSmail Portal, instructions on how to do this can be found here
5 Are there additional guidance materials on Teams? Yes, there is a designated section on the Support pages for Teams – linked here. This covers guidance on how to chat, call and meet as well as information on call recording, Live Events and Dial-In
6 Can we share documents with guest user accounts? Yes, sharing with Guest User accounts across the O365 applications is available. However, this is only possible with users from approved (allow-listed) domains. Full detail on the end to end process can be found here, including the necessary permissions required to share with a guest
7 Can we setup the Office desktop install through NHSmail (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)? No – the E3 restricted license does not include ProPlus and the desktop install of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Access to Office will continue to be managed by local organisations
8 Are there any changes to email functionality? The Temporary Changes guide highlights some of the email feature changes you will experience following the Refresh. For Outlook users the experience will remain consistent, for those that use OWA – this has now been replaced by Outlook on the Web, which will have a slightly different look and feel
9 Are there any training resources for the new O365 services? For training on the new features available, check out the Features Introduction guide – which includes links to external training materials. There is a wealth of training, support and guidance materials that users can access through the Microsoft training centre
When will I get the calendar icon within Microsoft Teams? 
Following your upgrade, you will gain the benefits of Teams and Outlook calendar integration. Within 1-3 days post  Refresh, the calendar icon will appear within the menu on the left-hand side of the Teams client allowing you to access and schedule meetings with ease.

Why has my file been quarantined/failed while trying to share via OneDrive?

Sharing files in OneDrive is limited to 150MB. If you have files larger than this then these can be zipped and shared. If the zip file still exceeds the 150MB limit then split the zipped files into multiple files and share.


CIO / IT Director FAQs Answers
1 What are the benefits of the Refresh? The refreshed service will deliver a number of benefits, including:
-Easier collaboration with your colleagues across the NHSmail network
-Work from any device, anywhere, at any time
-Tools to create hubs for project and group working
-Rich real-time messaging chat with co-workers
-Access to advanced audio and video meetings
-Access to a suite of O365 products free of charge
2 Do we need to sign up for the Refresh? Organisations that currently utilise NHSmail do not need to do anything to sign up for the Refresh. Users with a email address will automatically be upgraded and given access to the new O365 services. For organisations that do not currently use NHSmail, guidance is set out here on how you can plan a migration to the service
3 Are there any cost implications? There are no additional cost implications or changes to NHSmail service model as a result of the Refresh work. Access to the O365 licenses is provided centrally by NHS Digital at no extra cost
4 Can we use / onboard our own O365 licenses on the platform? Yes, if you require feature sets above and beyond what is provided by the E3 Restricted license then there is the option to top-up your licenses. Onboarding guidance is provided here, outlining how you can procure licenses directly from a Microsoft reseller and load them into the tenant. Please note, F1 licenses are not supported on the platform
5 Can we opt out of the Refresh? All users on the NHSmail platform will be in scope for Refresh and migration to Exchange Online.
6 We have our own O365 tenant, can we transfer across? Detailed guidance is provided here on how organisations can consider migration from their local O365 tenant into the central tenant. This includes step by step instructions across each of the O365 applications
How long will the NHSmail service run for?
The NHSmail service will run at a minimum until March 2023


Refresh Assurance & Clinical Safety FAQs  Answers
1 Do organisations need to complete a local Information Governance & Clinical Safety appraisal of the service? The NHSmail platform has been centrally reviewed against DCB0129 Clincal Safety Standards and has received Clinical Authority to Release (CATR). As always it is recommended that local organisations carry out a local IG and clinical safety appraisal (DCB0160) to determine appropriate usage of new services and applications in relation to local requirements
2 Is it safe to use O365 applications to share and store patient data? End users and clinical staff must ensure that the patient health record is maintained at all times. As with the current on-premise NHSmail service, email and O365 applications should not be used as a replacement for health records or clinical systems. Please liaise with your local Clinical Safety Officer with regards to the acceptable use of O365 applications within your organisation
3 Can Teams be used for patient consultations? If you are planning to use Teams for patient consultations or in a clinical setting, please engage with your local Clinical Safety Officer who is best placed to advise you on the safe and appropriate use of Teams in your organisation
4 Where will data reside in the new NHSmail Service? Data held within Azure Active Directory and O365 services is held by Microsoft within their UK and EU data centres. More information on O365 data residency can be found here.


Updated on 28/01/2021

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