Campaign to promote NHS app among non-English speaking communities

The NHS is trying to promote use of its app among Somali, Romanian, and Bengali speakers

The NHS is trying to promote use of its app among Somali, Romanian, and Bengali speakers - Credit: NHS

The NHS has launched a campaign in east London to boost access to health information in communities where English is not the first language. 

The initiative – which went live across social media, community WhatsApps and community events in August – will promote the NHS app in Somali, Romanian, Bengali and English. 

NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group (NEL CCG), supported by NHSX and NHS Digital, will run the campaign across Barking and Dagenham, the City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. 

The three languages chosen by the campaign were selected due to their prevalence in north east London; the CCG said in some areas of Tower Hamlets, for example, as many as one in ten do not speak or read English. 

Dr Abdul Kamali, a GP in Tower Hamlets, said: “NHSX and our public engagement team in Tower Hamlets are keen to work with people who do not read or speak English to find out what improvements to the NHS app they would find helpful in the long-term, as a way of reducing the language barrier.  

“We also want to test out the effectiveness of promoting services in the spoken word (community languages) in north east London.  

“We’re hoping that this will improve everyone’s understanding of what services are on offer and give local communities a voice.” 

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At the centre of the campaign are short explainers demonstrating the benefits of the app, as well as video tutorials offering step-by-step guides to its use. 

The videos were co-designed with the communities themselves, the CCG said.

They highlight features that would be of particular interest and benefit to older users, such as advice, the convenience of appointment bookings, access to personal health records and easy prescription reordering. 

But the campaign is aimed at younger family members who might support older relatives to download, set up an NHS login and use the NHS app. 

Stephanie Kronson, of the digital inclusion team at NHSX, said: “Listening to those from seldom-heard communities not only ensures that our content reflects and responds to their needs but also helps to build important bridges – so we can no longer speak of the hard-to-reach.”