Many NHSmail users could see the size of their mailbox doubled in response to feedback about the service, which will also move onto Microsoft’s newest Exchange platform next year.

Some 80% of NHSmail accounts were capped at 200Mb at the end of 2007, in preparation for the service’s move off its Mirapoint platform and onto Microsoft Exchange 2007.

With the migration complete, Will Moss, programme head of NHSmail, said it was looking to double this quota over time.

“The average quota at the moment is 200Mb per user, although there is some flexibility within organisations, so some individuals can have up to 1Gb. We hope to double the 200MB over the coming months,” he said.

“If we implement, test and roll out sensibly, we think the new platform has the capacity to do that.”

Moss also said that NHSmail would be moving to Exchange 2010 next year. The move is built into the deal that NHS Connecting for Health and Cable and Wireless negotiated with Microsoft and will not require further account migration.

Users will see some improvements from the new platform. For example, they will be able to detect “out of office” messages before sending an email.

Cable and Wireless has been responsible for NHSmail since 2004. In July 2008, it announced that it would switch to Exchange 2007. Some 355,000 accounts were migrated over 12 weeks this spring.

CfH argued that users would see a significant improvement in functionality as a result. To test this, it recently ran a user survey, to which 6.6% of NHSmail’s 250,000 active users responded.

Moss said 83% said they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the new service, while 77% were more or as satisfied with the new service as the old one.

He acknowledged this meant 23% were less satisfied, but said the survey had identified three main reasons for this: quota, speed and training.

“One of the issues was the old thing of RTM [read the manual],” he said. “In other words, people said it was not possible to do things – like delete multiple emails – that it is possible to do.

“We also found that few people did the pre-training that was available, which was disappointing because 97% of the people who did do it were very pleased with it.”

Moss said CfH had publicised the guidance available on NHSmail on its own website, the Microsoft NHS Resource Centre and through email and other campaigns. “We distributed it in every way we could think of, except for going up in a hot air balloon and dropping it on hospital car parks.”

However, he said it was going to use the websites and regular newsletters to run FAQs on features that people were struggling with or did not know existed.

CfH says it has an order book of around 20 NHS organisations looking to move off their own email platforms onto NHSmail. An increasing number of trusts are also using features such as SMS messaging to send appointment reminders and other communications to patients.

“Our focus for the next 18 months is benefits realisation – moving trusts to the service and getting it embedded in the NHS – so we get more from the investment that the NHS has put in place,” Moss said.