• Huge surge in demand for NHS Digital services
  • New figures show big uptake of NHS App and NHS Login amid pandemic
  • 111 online service reports biggest increase 

Demand for core NHS information and access services has “exploded” amid the coronavirus pandemic, new figures shared exclusively with HSJ reveal.

Public facing services, such as the NHS App and NHS Login, have had huge increases in usage, as people turn to technological solutions to deal with covid-19.

Since 24 February, when NHS Digital launched its covid-19 response, the NHS App — which gives people access to NHS services, such as booking appointments and viewing their medical records —  has been downloaded nearly 434,000 times. Prior to 24 February, the total number of downloads stood at 915,500. The app was made available to the public in January 2019.

Requests for repeat prescriptions made through the app have also risen dramatically. More than 100,000 such requests have been made since 24 February, compared to 236,000 prior to the pandemic.

Use of NHS Login has also increased. More than 292,000 new accounts have been created on the system — which patients can use to access health and care services, and also helps providers of digital services — since 24 February, which account for around half of all the accounts (578,000) created since the service went live in September 2018.

Of the 292,000 new NHS Login accounts, around 138,500 have been verified so far.

The number of people accessing NHS 111 online has also shot up. On its busiest day (17 March) so far during the pandemic, the 111 online service had 950,000 users. Prior to the covid-19 crisis, the average number of daily users was 10,000.

The service has been constantly updated with infrastructure support and integration with other services, with a total of 30 “functional changes” made since 24 February.

In addition, the NHS UK website – which provides information about coronavirus (and many other health conditions) has around 1.5 million visits per day on average now, compared to pre-covid-19 rates of 950,000.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said covid-19 had caused an “explosion in demand” and told HSJ many of the organisation’s staff had taken on work that is “completely outside their normal roles”.

“Many of the teams have been working intensely hard and right through weekends for more than two months now,” she said.

“Despite the intensity, I have no doubt we will emerge as a stronger, more confident organisation, emboldened by having had a significant and important impact on the system.”