NHS fax machines to be phased out

By Julie Griffiths on 02 January 2019 NHS

The government is banning the NHS from buying fax machines and has ordered a complete phase-out by April 2020.

NHS trusts will instead be required to invest in new technology to replace outdated systems.

The ban on buying fax machines takes effect from January 2019 and they will be phased out by 31 March 2020. NHS organisations will be monitored on a quarterly basis until they declare themselves ‘fax free’.

It is part of the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock’s tech vision, to modernise the health service and make it easier for NHS organisations to introduce innovative technologies.

Matt said: ‘We’ve got to get the basics right, like having computers that work and getting rid of the archaic fax machines still used across the NHS when everywhere else got rid of them years ago.’

He added: ‘Email is much more secure and miles more effective than fax machines.’

In July, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) revealed more than 8000 fax machines were in use across the NHS in England, which was described as ‘absurd’ by Richard Kerr, chair of the RCS commission on the future of surgery.

He said: ‘Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up.’

Three-quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey – 95 in total. Ten trusts said that they did not own any fax machines, but four in 10 reported more than 100 in use.

From April 2020, NHS organisations will be required to use modern communication methods, such as secure email, to improve patient safety and cyber security.