• Health Help Now back online after being cleared by NHS Digital
  • CSU continuing to apply to have app added to NHS app library
  • Disruption after NHS England renews focus on online patient services

An NHS developed app used by half a million patients is back online, having assured regulators of its safety, less than a month after NHS England pressure forced a suspension.

The Health Help Now app and website was suspended earlier this month after concerns were raised at NHS England that the service had failed to show how it was meeting national clinical safety standards for NHS IT systems.

Developed by North East London Commissioning Support Unit, Health Help Now is used by 28 clinical commissioning groups, mostly in and around London, to direct patients to the most appropriate health service in their area, based on their reported symptoms.

On Friday, NHS Digital confirmed the CSU had demonstrated the app met the necessary clinical standards.

In a statement, the CSU said: “The service provided by Health Help Now has now been restored. This follows notification by NHS Digital that we have demonstrated the app fully complies with the recommended NHS England clinical safety standard for health ICT systems.

“During the temporary suspension of service, our team made resolving this a top priority and we worked closely with our customers and their communities to minimise any disruption.”

The CSU said it was still going through the process to have the app added to the NHS app library.

Health Help Now is one of several apps being used in the NHS to direct patients to the most appropriate clinical service. However, it is one of the few such apps developed within the health service, with most competing products developed by private suppliers.

NHS England is currently piloting four NHS 111 online triage tools, mostly with private suppliers, that provide a similar functionality to Health Help Now. Health Help Now is not included in the pilots.

Developing better online patient services is key part of the NHS England’s IT strategy, particularly any service that redirects patients away from stretched emergency departments.