More than two million hours of staff time have been saved since the NHS rolled out Microsoft Teams, a new survey has found.

In the first six months, the communications platform was used across the health service as it replaced 14.5m phone calls and hosted more than 32m virtual meetings.

NHS Digital rolled Teams out to 1.3million users with NHSmail accounts between 16-20 March 2020.  The roll-out was accelerated to help NHS staff better communicate and collaborate around their responses to Covid-19, and counter the increased risks associated with the virus.

It is estimated Teams has saved 2.9m hours for NHS staff in the six months between April and September this year, which NHS Digital said have been put to “better use”.

In one week alone nearly six million messages were sent between NHS staff and more than 1.3million meetings were held.

The Digital Workplace team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust looked at the efficiency of using Teams and found that on average a staff member would save one minute by using the software instead of a phone each time they called a colleague.

The study also found staff members saved five minutes every time they replaced an in-person meeting with a virtual one.

Pushpak Nayak, associate director of ICT operations at Imperial College NHS Trust, said: “When joining a Teams meeting there’s no need to spend time checking if a meeting room is available and no need to leave your work area to get to the meeting room.

“In many cases the time saving would be much greater than five minutes, especially if the meeting is being held at another hospital site.

“We are now focusing on benchmarking efficiencies as we digitalise front line and back-office processes and will look to expand our cost equivalent savings model as we roll out further NHSmail O365 productivity services,” he added.

Figures from October 2020 revealed more than 65 million messages were sent on Teams since it was rolled out across the health service in March that year.

At the time a total of 13.2million meetings had been held on the communication platform.

These new figures suggest the software has continued to be used to improve communication among colleagues, freeing up time for NHS staff to focus on providing care.

Chris Parsons, head of collaboration services for NHS Digital, added: “This has been a gamechanger that enables health and care colleagues to connect, communicate and collaborate effortlessly.

“Having over 1.6m colleagues on the same secure communications platform is enabling massive improvements in how the whole system can work more effectively together.

“The pandemic caused a seismic shift in how teams operated and worked together across the health and care system, having access to collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams has enabled that transition to be smooth and effective.”