Fax machines and pagers in NHS hospitals and other organisations could be banned under new legislation to which I have given my support.
The National Health Service (Prohibition of Fax Machines and Pagers) Bill was introduced today by the Conservative MP for Havant, Alan Mak and co-sponsored by myself in the House of Commons.
If passed the measure, which has the support of the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP, would put into law the Government’s commitment which was outlined in the recent NHS Long Term Plan to digitalise the NHS. The use of ageing technology such as fax machines and pagers cost the NHS millions of pounds, and the new legislation would ensure NHS Trusts and quangos would be banned from using fax machines and pagers by 2021.
It comes after statistics revealed in July that more than 8,000 fax machines are still being used by the NHS in England. Meanwhile in a report published last year for the think-tank Centre for Policy Studies, Mr Mak outlined how the NHS accounted for more than 10% of all pagers in circulation worldwide – with more than 100,000 still in use across hospitals.
Fax machines and pagers are holding back our NHS from fulfilling its potential, and that’s why I’m backing this new law as a co-sponsor to finally ban them. I fully support action that is taken to modernise our NHS and ensure it meets the digital expectations of patients in Thirsk and Malton.
By replacing the pager, it is estimated that the NHS could save thousands of hours of staff time and over £1bn per year. Trials using a digital, WhatsApp-style replacement for the pager called Medic Bleep at West Suffolk Hospital saved nurses more than 20 minutes per shift, and doctors more than 50 minutes.
Speaking after the debate Alan Mak MP said: “Mr Hollinrake is a strong supporter of the NHS locally and in Parliament, and I’m grateful for his support to eradicate out-dated technology such as fax machines and pagers from our NHS so our doctors and nurses have the best tools at work. By banning ageing technology, the NHS can focus on the future and become a fully digital organisation.”