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Digital healthcare in use by nearly half of UK’s adult population

Some 28 million citizens have access to the NHS login, according to new data

About 50% of the UK’s adult population have access to digital healthcare, according to new numbers released by NHS Digital.

Nearly 28 million adults in the UK are currently registered with NHS login, the service supporting the NHS App. This is an increase from about 2.2 million users in September 2020. More than 16 million have signed up for the NHS App, according to the government statistics.

The surge in the number of users follows the addition of the NHS Covid Pass, the Covid-19 vaccination status service, on 17 May after joint work by NHSX and NHS Digital, with 12 million users signing up since the feature was launched. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the NHS App is currently the most downloaded free app in England.

“In the past 18 months, the NHS has made huge progress in offering access to care online,” said Emma McLachlan, director of digital experience at NHSX, the healthcare service’s digital delivery unit. “Through NHS login, we can give the public direct access to choices, information and services, and help them stay healthy.”

NHS login has had the biggest uptake in London, according to NHS Digital, with Londoners accounting for 20.3% of users of the tool in August 2021. The latest statistics suggest the service is more popular among those aged between 30-39 in London, and 20-29 overall.

While encouraging the public to download the tool, NHSX’s McLachlan said the NHS “will always offer non-digital alternatives” for those unable or unwilling to use the NHS login and app.

In August, it emerged that more than a million citizens had exercised their right to opt out of NHS data-sharing following a public backlash against NHS Digital’s General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR), with many more likely to follow as awareness of the proposals spreads.

Some 45 apps and online healthcare services are currently available through NHS login. This includes referral, maternity and child health services, as well as online pharmacies, and advice relating to Covid-19 and more broadly on health and wellbeing.

Reporting statistics between May and August 2021, NHS Digital noted that 268,063 GP appointments were booked via the NHS App. Also, more than 150,000 people registered their organ donation preferences for the first time, and 3.2 million repeat prescriptions were ordered using the tool.

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