A direct messaging service for GPs has raised more than £8million funding.

Chain SMS, which was created by UK Start Up AccuRx, lets GP practices send text messages to patients, asking them to book tests, send follow-up information after an appointment, and lets them know when a prescription is ready to collect.

The service is fully integrated with the ‘EMIS’ GP IT system used in the majority of GP practices, and each message takes less than 30 seconds to send.

It is already being used in 1,400 NHS GP Practices across England since its launch in February 2018.

AccuRx has now announced it has raised £8.8million in funding which it says will go towards getting Chain SMS into more GP practices.

The investment is being led by Atomico with participation from LocalGlobe and Entrepreneur First.

LocalGlobe partner, Julia Hawkins, said: “Healthcare is a huge and exciting market at the moment where there is a need and desire for digital innovation.

“With careful customer research, AccuRx has developed a software platform that is having immediate impact with GPs and their patients and we think that their platform has significant potential to improve healthcare delivery in a variety of settings.”

As well as scaling up, Chain SMS, AccuRx is also hoping to use the funding to expand its team to 50 people over the next 18 months, mostly in product and engineering roles.

A spokesperson for AccuRx added: “The NHS is filled with a smart, caring and driven workforce, but on a daily basis they’re let down by outdated IT systems. Systems that aren’t fit for purpose and put patients at risk.

“The appetite for innovation from our community of users is extremely rewarding, and we satisfy this with very regular software improvements and updates – something much more common outside of healthcare.

“We’re looking forward to growing our team in 2019, so that we can start delivering on our ambitious vision for communication in the NHS.”

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January, promised every patient in England will be able to access a digital first primary care offer, by 2023/24.

According to NHS England, this commitment will be delivered via the creation of a new framework for suppliers, and by the adjustment of the GP payment formulae for digital first practices.