NHS App-getting set up

The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet

The NHS App: what you need to know

Henshaws have been supporting people living with sight loss to access printed text, from letters and leaflets that pop through our letter boxes, to the thousands of books in our fantastic libraries for over twenty years.

We have continued to empower our service users to access the digital world that is developing around us. We have supported people to access their banking, online shop, download and listen to music, search for information, find out the latest news, and the other myriad of ways we can communicate with our friends, family and anyone else that might (or not) want to.
More and more organisations are giving us new alternative ways we can get in touch, access our information and receive services – one such organisation we all know, and love is the NHS.

Richard with a mobile and tablet with the NHS app uploaded

NHS login, the service which supports the NHS App

The online service, which is managed by NHS Digital, provides people with a quick and secure single point of access to a variety of digital health and care websites and apps using just one email address and password.

A total of 45 apps and e-health services are available through NHS login, including e-Referral services, Covid-19 support and advice, maternity and child health services, online pharmacies, and services to monitor and improve health and wellbeing.

We asked Richard to set up the NHS app, and this is his account of how he got on.

“When I originally set my NHS app up, I seem to remember the process being quite longwinded and not very easy to follow. Following a push by the NHS (along with the rest of the world) to get more people using online services, I wondered if the process was any easier. It wasn’t! If you want to share my pain, please read on. If you want the executive summary, please feel free to skip to ‘Final Thoughts’.

My current phone is a Samsung A71 using Android 11. After going through the whole process at a different time on an iPhone 12 using iOS 15, the experience was almost identical allowing for different gestures between Voiceover and Talkback.”

The process is the same as downloading any other app. After launching Play Store, I tapped on the search bar. Using the search term ‘NHS’ results in the correct app being at the top of the list. So I tapped ‘Install’, waited for my phone to do it’s stuff then tapped ‘Open’ to launch the app.

Confirming my identity

This was certainly one of the pain points! Up until now, the app flowed in a logical way. The screens were all uncluttered and the font size was based on my user preference rather than being dictated by the app. I had gone through the whole process up to this point with Talkback on, which identified every element in the correct way and performed exactly as I would expect. Even the flow for Talkback exactly mirrored the visual layout!

To confirm my identity, I opted to take a photo of my driving licence. There were other options available but the top two were driving licence and passport. So, I selected the appropriate form of ID from the list, tapped on the camera button and then was offered a choice of camera or file by the Android Operating System. This surprised me as I expected to be taken straight to the camera or at least a screen asking for permission for the app to access the camera. Selecting the camera option from at this point then took me to a pop-up asking permission for the camera to use the app, which I allowed, then the familiar camera screen appeared. After taking a photo of my licence, I was asked a series of questions about the picture. Unfortunately, my picture was obscured as the hologram reflected light which obscured part of my address, so I had to try again. And again. And again.

On the fifth attempt, I had turned the flash off on my camera, and this worked. Sometimes, it takes me a while to learn! At this point, the only accommodation made for a VIP is that you do not need to do the checks on the photo, you can just send it in as it is, and it will get checked at the far end. I am not sure what they do with it or whether they just do the checks that are asked of people who are not VI.
Onto the next stage. The instructions were clear about what I need to do. I was given 4 digits and asked to do a video recording of me saying those digits. So, on came my camera, with the button in the same place as usual to start the recording. Unfortunately, the rear facing camera was on as I had just taken a photo of my driving licence. This was easy for me to correct as I could see the screen but someone who is unable to see the screen would just be taking a video of what is in front of them. Once this is done, you cannot move forward without playing the video to review it. You are then asked several questions about the video to ensure that NHS get what they need. Once this was submitted, I was advised that I should receive an email within the next 24 hours to confirm that I would be able to access the app.
Whilst the app itself ticked every box regarding accessibility in terms of being compatible with the phone’s built in accessibility features, the process of proving who you are was certainly not accessible. Sighted support would be required. Apparently, there is a way to prove your identity using details given to you by your GP to register for online services. If you have not been given these details, you will need to ask your GP for them. How to use this method was not obvious when using the app.

Close up image of the NHS app on a phone

Final thoughts

This app, in line with my experience of other NHS apps like NHS Covid-19, is well thought out, with straightforward, uncluttered screens. As a result, the process of accessing the app and navigating around the app for a VIP is no more difficult than accessing any other app. However, alternative ways of proving identity that are more user friendly would be a significant step forward in enabling the blind community to access the application.

Download the NHS app:

Apple link 
Android link 

Find out about NHS services

Links to some of the many NHS Online Services and other places for support

NHS login – NHS

NHS App help and support – NHS 

Health A to Z – NHS

Patient Info

Recap Health

MyWay Digital Health

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