Communicating by email or SMS text

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (the trust) is committed to making sure that services are as tailored as possible to the requirements of its patients. The trust recognises that with advancing technology, current and routine forms of communication may not be convenient or possible with some patients and/or parental guardians.

We recognise that you should also be able to contact us in accessible ways such as by email, text message or text relay.

Emails

To make sure your personal information is secure we have the ability to communicate with you via secure (encrypted) email. This means that the information in the email is scrambled as it travels across the internet, but can be read by the person it is being sent to. To use this encrypted email facility you will need to register your email address. You only need to register your email address once on a secure portal, using the link which we will send to you in an email. Once you have confirmed that you have registered, we can safely send confidential information to you. Speak to your healthcare professional about using this facility.

Alternatively, if you wish us to correspond with you via unencrypted email we must advise you that this is not a secure method for transmitting confidential information over the internet and so we may limit the amount of information we send to you. We may also require you to sign a consent form.

Text messages

If you wish for us to correspond with you by text, there will be risks that messages containing your personal information may be intercepted or accessed by a third-party such as your phone provider.

Risks

Some of the risks for communicating by emailing and text are:

  • It is easy to misaddress an email, either by an incorrect email address being supplied, or by typing mistake. Before the routine use of email, we will ask you to confirm the address that you gave us is correct.
  • Email can be circulated, forwarded and stored in lots of paper and electronic files. Forwarded copies of an email may exist even after you have deleted your copy. This is especially of concern if you use Gmail, Yahoo or MSN as any unencrypted email is stored by those companies on servers, many of which may be outside the UK.
  • Unencrypted email and text messages can be intercepted, altered, forwarded, or used without your knowledge. The messages can also be rapidly broadcast worldwide and be received by many intended and unintended recipients.
  • Email and text messages are easier to falsify than handwritten or signed document. The lack of a signature or postmark makes it difficult to check where it has come from.
  • Internet service providers such as Gmail, Yahoo or MSN have a right to archive and inspect unencrypted emails transmitted through their systems. In addition government legislation mandates that email contact details along with source and destination address are retained by internet service providers.

Please bear the above in mind when deciding how much of your personal information to seek and how much personal information to disclose.

You may wish to discuss the type and the amount of information that you would like to receive with your healthcare professional.

Using email or text

By entering into email or text correspondence with us you:

  • understand that the trust has no responsibility for your personal information that leaves authorised NHS networks at your request and as such cannot guarantee the security of such information
  • understand that the trust has no responsibility for equipment used by you to send or receive email or SMS text messages
  • understand that once you receive the email or text message containing your personal information you are responsible for the information and the trust takes no responsibility should you forward this information on to others
  • are satisfied that access to your own system is secure and are aware of the risks to confidentiality with shared email accounts, shared computers or mobile phones etc.
  • will only be able to open an encrypted email sent by us once you have registered on the secure portal to receive the information
  • understand that you cannot send a new encrypted email to us and the secure portal facility is only available for you to receive confidential information from us.

If you decide to send an email to us you must:

  • clearly place your full name and NHS number in the body of the email. You can find your NHS number on any NHS correspondence you have or ask your healthcare professional
  • include the type of communication in the email’s subject line, for example, appointment query
  • check the email to make sure it’s clear and that all relevant information is provided. Always check the destination address before sending it
  • understand the risks of your confidential information being intercepted by others as explained in this leaflet.

Please note the trust cannot be held responsible for disclosure of information if it has been provided with an incorrect email address or phone number at any point.

Updating your details

It is extremely important that you let us know as soon as possible if you change contact details or communication preferences for example, changing your email account or mobile number, so that we can update our records. If you don’t do this, there is a risk that your confidential information could be sent to someone else.

Contact us

If you have any queries please speak to your healthcare professional or contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) using the details below.

0300 123 1807
Text 07899 903499
kentchft.PALS@nhs.net

Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm

Write to us at Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), Concept Court, Unit J, Shearway Road, Folkestone, Kent CT19 4RG