Health secretary Matt Hancock has banned NHS trusts from buying fax machines with a target they will be phased out by 2020.
Hancock said NHS organisations will be monitored on a quarterly basis “until they declare themselves fax free”.
The move follows research by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) that found trusts across England were using almost 9,000 fax machines, despite it being a technology that “most organisations scrapped in the early 2000s”.
Freedom of information requests sent by the RCS showed trusts owned 8,946 fax machines, with Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust owning the most with 603. Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust owned 400 and Barts Health NHS Trust 369. Other research last year showed the NHS was the largest purchaser of fax machines in the world.
The ban takes effect from January 2019 and faxes will be phased out by 31 March 2020.
Hancock said: “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.
“I am instructing the NHS to stop buying fax machines and I’m setting a deadline for getting rid of them altogether. Email is much more secure and miles more effective than fax machines. The NHS can be the best in the world – and we can start with getting rid of fax machines.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.