NHS Fax Machine Phase-Out


The NHS is banned from purchasing any more fax machines from this month and has been told by the government that it must stop using the machines entirely by 31st March 2020.


The Department of Health has stated that a move to more modern communication methods is needed in order to improve patient safety and cyber security. In place of fax machines, it has been suggested that secure emails should be used to communicate and transfer information.


This announcement comes following a report earlier in the year which revealed that almost 9,000 fax machines were still in use cross the NHS in England. Three quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey: 95 in total. Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust topped the list, relying on 603 machines. Barts Trust, England’s biggest trust, has 369 fax machines in regular use. 10 trusts did not have any fax machines in use, but 40% of trusts reported use of over 100.


Whilst the Royal College of Surgeons, who released this report, has come out in support of the government’s decision to phase out this “archaic” technology, some have expressed doubts about the move away from fax machines. The main cause for concern is a lack of trust in the dependability of the relevant IT facilities.


Last year, the NHS was hit by a cyber-attack that disrupted hospital and GP appointments throughout England and Scotland. As a result, many are concerned as to how the NHS’ IT infrastructure will handle patient safety and security following the phase-out.


Similarly, some have expressed concerns over the efficiency and reliability of becoming computer-dependent. One GP in the Midlands said that its staff currently rely on a fax machine for requesting x-rays at local hospitals, due to an ongoing IT issue which is yet to be resolved.


How can NHS organisations prepare for the fax machine phase-out?


NHS organisations will need to be sure that their IT infrastructures are ready for the phasing out of fax machines before these machines are ultimately switched off. This includes ensuring that the IT infrastructure provides a safe and secure means of transferring sensitive patient information, whilst also being efficient, streamlined and reliable.


Each NHS organisation will require a bona fide strategy in order to move away from fax machines with minimum disruption to staff and patients and, most importantly, ensuring that the security of patient data is never compromised.


Creating an IT Strategy with 4C Strategies


4C Strategies has been assisting organisations in the healthcare sector for 20 years and, in this time, has helped over 60 NHS trusts in a number of technology areas. Our highly experienced consultants are therefore uniquely positioned to assist with the creation and/or implementation of an IT strategy that includes the smooth transition away from fax machines and towards a more secure and reliable means of communication.


To book a free consultation, contact 4C Strategies today on 01858 438938, or email nhs@4c.co.uk.


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