Better Care

School nurse text message service launched

The school nursing teams in Birmingham and Sandwell have today (3 April, 2017) launched a new service to give young people direct access to expert healthcare advice and support via their mobile phone or tablet.

The ChatHealth text message service, launched on 3 April in secondary schools, is a quick and easy way for young people to request advice about a range of health issues, make an appointment with a school nurse and find out more about other support services in their area.

All young people in Birmingham and Sandwell aged 11-19 can receive confidential support on physical and emotional wellbeing and hot teenage topics such as bullying and sexual health by sending a brief text message to the ChatHealth number for their area.

Birmingham                07480 635485
Sandwell                      07480 635486

secondary school pupils

The service will be available from Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm, excluding bank holidays. 

Messages are forwarded to the school nursing team covering the sender’s area, who will respond within one working day.

Outside these hours, anyone sending a message to the service will receive an automated reply with advice on where to get help if their enquiry is urgent.

The introduction of a secure app is also planned to enable students to speak with a nurse by instant messages on smartphones after logging in with a username and password.

Feedback from early ChatHealth adopters shows:
  • an increase in episodes of care delivered
  • more young people accessing their school nurse, particularly young males.
  • several students accessing their school nurse for the first time.
  • efficiency of text service releasing extra time for school nurses to care
  • ChatHealth provided a thorough, timely, sensitive and reassuring service, offering young people the option of face-to-face care if required.

Sue Marsh, director of children and families services at Birmingham Community Healthcare said: “School nurses are very often the first point of contact for young people seeking support on a wide range of issues that may be concerning them.

“There can be a number of reasons why a young person might prefer not to speak to a nurse face-to-face in the school environment.

“Our aim is always to provide a service that is easy and appealing for young people to access and so ChatHealth is a very valuable alternative to speaking to a nurse in school because, for this generation of young people, sending messages via mobile devices may often be their preferred method of communicating.”

ChatHealth has been highly acclaimed by the Department of Health, which encourages the use of mobile and social media to improve access to healthcare – particularly for young people. 

The service was awarded an Innovation Challenge Prize from NHS England and multiple other awards for innovative use of communication in healthcare and improving patient experiences.