RCS finds almost 9,000 fax machines owned by hospitals

The NHS has been criticised for its reliance on outdated and ‘archaic’ technology as it is revealed that hospital trusts own almost 9,000 fax machines.

The Royal College of Surgeons has found out that NHS hospital trusts in England own a worrying 8,946 fax machines, with Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust singled out as relying upon an astonishing 603 fax machines.

Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery, has expressed concern and called it ‘farcical’ that the NHS is investing in artificial intelligence and robot-assisted surgery at the same time as persisting in using outdated technology to communicate and share information.

Kerr said: “Fax machines were in popular use about the last time England were in a World Cup semi-final. Despite all the years of hurt, NHS fax machines are still gleaming. 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. 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.

“As digital technologies begin to play a much bigger role in how we deliver healthcare, it’s absolutely imperative that we invest in better ways of sharing and communicating all of the patient information that is going to be generated. The NHS cannot continue to rely on a technology most other organisations scrapped in the early 2000s.”

Due to be published in the Autumn, the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery aims to set out a compelling and credible vision of the future advances in medicine and technology, as well as how those developments will affect the delivery of surgical care.

Please register to comment on this article