Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, has put in place a ban across the whole of the NHS to prevent any orders of fax machines. This comes as a plan to phase out fax machines completely by 2020. The ban on ordering fax machines begins in January 2019 with a phase-out date for the 31st March 2020. Furthermore, NHS trusts will be monitored quarterly until they declare themselves as a ‘fax free’ NHS trust.
Currently, there are more than 8,000 fax machines being used across the whole of the NHS in England. As a way to improve cybersecurity and patient safety, the NHS is required to use modern communication methods, such as secure email from April 2019.
‘Axe the fax.’
The fax machine ban and increased use of innovative communication technology come as part of Matt Hancock’s tech vision for the NHS. The vision comes with a set of open standards to allow communication to cross boundaries of the organisation as well as ensuring continuous improvement.
The idea of the tech vision is to modernise the health service as a whole. Matt Hancock explains; “Because I love the NHS, I want to bring it into the 21st century and use the very best technology available. 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.”
As part of the tech vision, any system in the NHS that does not mean the standards set forward by the modernisation plan will have to be phased out. The NHS and the government will have to end contracts with providers who do not help to innovate and improve the health sector.
The Chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Commission on the Future of Surgery adds; “Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up. The RCS supports the ban on fax machines that will come into place in March 2020. Since we published our data on NHS fax machines, we’ve seen a number of trusts pledge to ‘axe the fax’. They have proved that, with the right will and support, it is possible to modernise NHS communications.”