NHS organisations must ‘axe the fax’ by 2020

Fax machines will be phased out to improve patient safety and cyber security

Fax machines will be phased out to improve patient safety and cyber security

Picture: iStock

Fax machines will be banned across the NHS under plans to overhaul outdated technology and IT systems.

From next month, the purchasing of fax machines will no longer be permitted in the health service. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock wants to see their use phased out by March 31 2020.

More than 8,000 still in use

By then, all NHS organisations will be required to use modern communication methods, such as secure email, to ensure improved patient safety and cyber security, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

The Royal College of Surgeons estimated this year that more than 8,000 fax machines are still being used in the NHS.

Chair of the college’s commission on the future of surgery Richard Kerr described the figure as ‘absurd’. 

'As digital technologies begin to play a bigger part in how we deliver healthcare it is crucial that we invest in better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated,’ he said.

Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s, he said, adding that it was ‘high time the NHS caught up’.

‘Since we published our data on NHS fax machines, we’ve seen a number of trusts pledge to “axe the fax”.’

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