The UK’s Royal College of Surgeons has called on the health service to modernise its IT infrastructure after discovering that NHS hospital trusts in England are using about 9000 fax machines. 

The RCS criticised the heavy reliance on archaic technology as Freedom of Information requests revealed that the Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, one of the NHS Global Digital Exemplars set to pave the way for widespread digitisation across health and care, owned more than 600 fax machines.

It was not the only GDE with a significant number of the outdated gadgets. The RCS contacted 124 NHS hospital trusts in England and figures provided to BJ-HC indicate four in ten trusts were using more than 100 machines. 

Only ten NHS hospital trusts in England do not own any at all.

Another 38 did not respond to the RCS’s requests or were not able to share the information.

Richard Kerr, RCS Council Member and Chair of the Commission on the Future of Surgery, said it was “farcical” that the NHS was investing in artificial intelligence and robotics, yet it still used technology that was popular “about the last time England were in a World Cup semi-final”.

“The advances we are beginning to see in the use of artificial intelligence and imaging for healthcare, as well as robot-assisted surgery, promise exciting benefits for NHS patients. As the RCS’s Commission on the Future of Surgery is discovering, there is so much more to come,” Mr Kerr said.

“Yet, alongside all of this innovation, NHS hospital trusts remain stubbornly attached to using archaic fax machines for a significant proportion of their communications. This is ludicrous.”

Originally published on BJ-HC, a sister publication of HITNA.

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TAGS: NHS, Fax machines



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