back to article Fix this faxing hell! NHS told to stop hanging onto archaic tech

The NHS has been told to stop clinging onto the past, after it was revealed trusts have more than 8,000 fax machines still in use. According to Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Royal College of Surgeons, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the worst offender – with a whopping 603 machines. …

Pete 2
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NO CARRI~@~~~$

> We can’t have Matt Hancock calling a hospital and hearing: baa-ruhr-reee-uh-reeee-uh-reee

Especially when they then go BOING BOING Tshhhhhhh <click>

Flakk
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Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

NOOOOO! They can't get rid of The Machine That Goes BOING BOING Tshhhhhhh! What if the Administrator comes?!

This post has been deleted by its author

Jaspa

Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

I'll hazzard a guess that given the pager tech works, it'll be a cautious replacement program.

First hand experience over a few years regularly proved mobile phones were pretty much useless in the deeper parts of the Hospital.

Happily for us the NHS Pager's didn't suffer the same fate.

As fot Fax Machines. Outdated, yes. Still functional, yes.

The myriad of Staff I've had the pleasure to deal with are highly trained in their particular fields. PC skills are seconday to Life saving skills in my book.

Given the huge range of staff ages and IT abilities, landing everyone with a Fax replacement would cause more trouble than its worth in the short term. Again, baby steps toward phasing them out both from a tech and staff training angle.

Just my 2p worth and to anyone from the NHS who may be reading this, keep up the good work and ignore the naysayers. Unsing heroes.

HmmmYes
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Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

Ahh yes , the Casualty view of a hospital, or whatever merkin drama.

Very little healthcare is provided under a blue flashing light, with a nurse holding onto an artery.

The majority is treating chronic conditions where you need to track progress over a very long time, sloging away.

This is where the fuckwit buffoonery that is accepted for the NHS fails all the time.

The NHS stats are great ..... apart from one - Improving peopkes health outcomes

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

They use them to make patients life difficult whilst avoiding doing any work. Personal experience, Hospital needed GP to fax hospital some info. GP would not send fax unless they were first recieved fax from hospital. Hospital refused to be the first faxer as there was not reason to. GP reception refused to fire up the fax until the hospital had demonstrated enough fax respect by sending them one first. . End results, lots of everyones time wasted while I (the sick guy) have to phone round trying to get people to do their jobs. And of course the admins and receptionists were all an absolute delight to work with.

CrazyOldCatMan
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Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

Don't UK solicitors still use Fax machines still ?

What do the NHS use them for ? I am certain they have e-mail, telephones etc.

Up until not that long ago, email was not a legally-allowed method of delivering information (for use in a court of law anyway - it's too easy to forge).

Fax on the other hand was legally-allowed in a court of law. Which is why solicitors still have them since they deal (a lot) with other solicitors and they are, by nature, a slow-moving bunch..

I understand that email is now a legal method (despite still being ridiculously easy to forge).

Charles 9
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Re: NO CARRI~@~~~$

Even with cryptographic signatures?

wolfetone
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Fund the NHS properly before dictating what and how they choose to communicate with for fuck sake.

Credas
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You want to hazard a guess how much clinging to those fax machines and pagers is costing the NHS? I bet the maintenance and service contracts are eye-wateringly expensive with them being basically obsolete and with so few suppliers.

codejunky
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@ wolfetone

"Fund the NHS properly"

What is properly? Under 13 years of labour, through one of the greatest booms, after selling gold and racking up debts money wad pissed all over them. We are giving them more now than Brown and his spending.

This is not a low tax country so I would be happy for the gov to throw away less and give it to our services, or even back to the people they rob. But chances are it would come from the budget of defence or education or something else. And the NHS will always want more.

pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
Coffee/keyboard

Re: @ wolfetone

"And the NHS will always want more."

let me correct that for you....

.... And the NHS will always NEED more

you could fund the NHS to the tune of £250M a week, but then you could always find a department wanting an extra few million a year to cover the cost of the latest prosthetics technology that's needed because of some war on another we have been dragged into on a lie is creating a back log of people needing replacement limbs.....

codejunky
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Re: @ wolfetone

@ pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

".... And the NHS will always NEED more "

Then it cannot possibly survive. If it always needs more then it can never have enough and must collapse. I hope there is a way around that. Delivering healthcare is more important than pleasing an insatiable maw.

pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

Re: @ wolfetone

"Then it cannot possibly survive. If it always needs more then it can never have enough and must collapse. I hope there is a way around that. Delivering healthcare is more important than pleasing an insatiable maw."

there are things that can be done, NHS funding of "alternative" treatments should be stopped for a start. Fixing peoples cosmetic surgery screw-ups should come with a bill....

But the thing with healthcare is that no matter how much it is funded, it could be running like a well oiled machine, every department working within budget, targets on waiting times met.... but until you reach a point where a GP refers you to a specialist in the morning and you can see that specialist the same day, and go into surgery that afternoon, or as many rounds of IVF as needed, then it will always need more money.

A health service is like an R&D department. It will burn through every penny in its budget no matter how much it has.

Mark 85
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It's quite obvious that it's probably the old guard types of physicians who insist on this as they have no idea about some of this new fangled equipment. I've seen it in the States, one doc uses smartphones and computers to the max, another insists on paper for everything and fax machines. The paper guy is the department boss....

Mark 85
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

because of some war on another we have been dragged into on a lie is creating a back log of people needing replacement limbs.....

It's just not "wars".. it's old age also and accidents.

extra few million a year to cover the cost of the latest prosthetics technology

The latest prosthetic tech isn't cheap. A dumb knee or arm is a mere pittance compared to the latest bells and whistles tech prosthetics. Yes, they do more and are worth it, IMO. However, to give them to some old gaffer in a wheelchair who won't walk or use the limb is ridiculous in the least. I don't know how the NHS handles this but here in the States, a mere prescription entitles anyone to get one if they are an amputee.

My wife is a leg amputee and to get a good leg and knee is outrageously expensive. We both know too many people who consider the high tech limbs a "status symbol" only. It's just one of the problems with medicine and cost.

Then there's the cost of the "latest and greatest" medications... again, some are considered status symbols.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: @ wolfetone

there are things that can be done, NHS funding of "alternative" treatments should be stopped for a start. Fixing peoples cosmetic surgery screw-ups should come with a bill....

I notice you list "alternative" treatments and cosmetic surgery as things that should be stopped...

...yet consider IVF to be "needed"....do you know how mind-bendingly expensive IVF is?

Dig

Re: @ wolfetone

@pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

"there are things that can be done, NHS funding of "alternative" treatments should be stopped for a start."

Too late

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/21/a-misuse-of-scarce-funds-nhs-to-end-prescription-of-homeopathic-remedies

John Brown (no body)
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"You want to hazard a guess how much clinging to those fax machines and pagers is costing the NHS? I bet the maintenance and service contracts are eye-wateringly expensive with them being basically obsolete and with so few suppliers."

I wonder just how many fax machines are actual stand-alone fax machines (with thermal paper that fades in sunlight) and how many are big, expensive multi-function printer/copiers with the fax add-on pre-installed and so used by default as the lowest common denominator for comms to the multifarious parts of the NHS all running on different vintages of systems that won't always inter-operate reliably?

Martin-73
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Re: @ wolfetone

13 yrs of labour? WHEN?

Hint, Blair was conservative

John Brown (no body)
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Re: @ wolfetone

...yet consider IVF to be "needed"....do you know how mind-bendingly expensive IVF is?

Yes, that is an interesting one. Taken to the extreme, if one person of a couple can't produce the necessary to create a child, maybe there's a biologic "fault" telling them something important. I've also heard IVF campaigners claim that it's every womans right to have a child if they wish. Well, actually, no, it isn't a right of any kind. No mention of the men either. But I could imagine it being a very, very difficult decision as to where to draw the line at when to offer or refuse IVF treatment on the NHS. As I understand it, different NHS trusts set the bar at different levels and it's usually set by people well removed from the process, ie bean counters.

Martin-73
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@Mark 85

In my (admittedly limited) experience, the doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff are far more conversant with IT than the people actually in charge of supplying it. The poor bastards responsible for maintaining it are capable of speaking for themselves on this august forum

Martin-73
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

@downvoter. HI TONY!

onefang

I wonder how many "fax" machines are email to fax gateways, that deliver to fax to email gateways?

David 164

Re: @ wolfetone

It only needs more until we can actually find cures for conditions which really weigh down the NHS finances, a easily administered cure for type 2 diabetes on it own would save the NHS 10% of it entire budget, about 12 billion pounds. That for one single disease. cystic fibrosis patient, they cost about 500 million a year. Dementia that something like 4 billion a year in costs alone could saved if we found a cure, plus billions more on the social care side of things.

There are other areas such as spinal cord damage which if we could repair them would no doubt save a large amount of money in both health and social care cost. Same with brain damage from strokes, luckily at least for one type of stroke brain damage from them should be extremely rare events in the 10 years or so.

This is where the real savings in the NHS and all health services can be made, of cause we have no clue when cures might arrive. Hemophilia for example it look like both A and B form will be curable in the next 5 years if current success of trials continues.

onefang

Re: @ wolfetone

The problem with the "find a cure" approach is the other side of the business. A pill that cures diabetes is something you can only sell to a customer once, a pill that treats diabetes without curing it, you have a lifetime subscription you can keep selling. The pill selling people would rather the later than the former, so that's what they spend their rather large R&D budgets on.

David 164

Re: @ wolfetone

but most blue sky research is done by charities or government funded universities, they will be the ones to find the cure, it will either be take up by pharmaceuticals or other source of funds will fund clinical trials. Or the NHS will do it itself. An it has shown increasing willingness to actually fund clinical trials itself over the years, the recent successful hemophilia trials was partially funded by the NHS.

Red Bren

Re: @ wolfetone

The NHS will always need more because it's a victim of its own success. Every life it prolongs now becomes a future patient needing treatment for the degenerative diseases of old age. So what is the solution, is there one?

Do we assess a treatment not only on its cost and effectiveness, but also on its utility? A costly, but life-saving treatment could be considered "worth it" for a thirty-something, but not for a sixty-something, based on tax contributions they are likely to make. It's the thin end of a rather nasty wedge; what other variables do you factor in? Do you prioritise treatment based on income, as that will offer a higher "return"? Speaking as someone who has spent most of his adult life taking medication, which has allowed me to be a well-paid, productive member of society, I don't like the idea of a system that might prioritise my treatment while I'm working, but when I hit retirement, no longer deems me worth it.

codejunky
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

@ Martin-73

"13 yrs of labour? WHEN?

Hint, Blair was conservative"

I am not sure which alternative universe you are from but he lead the labour party. And he had pretty impressive backing to actually get labour seen as a serious contender since before the 80's. With large support from the population particularly labour supporters.

I understand he is ridiculously toxic and an embarrassment to the country but before him labour were unelectable since before the 80's. Corbyn is willing to give us a demonstration why (and is demonstrating it already). Your claim that Blair was a tory implies labour has been unelectable for nearly 40 yrs and counting!

HmmmYes
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Those NHS homeopathic hospitals were well funded.

HmmmYes
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Re: @ wolfetone

There is a cure for 90% of type 2 diabetics - wire their gobs up.

Doctor Syntax
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Re: @ wolfetone

"Fixing peoples cosmetic surgery screw-ups should come with a bill."

And preferably delivered to the "surgeon" who screwed up, not their victim.

Doctor Syntax
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

"However, to give them to some old gaffer in a wheelchair who won't walk or use the limb is ridiculous in the least."

However, helping the old gaffer get out of the wheelchair isn't in the least ridiculous.

Doctor Syntax
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

A costly, but life-saving treatment could be considered "worth it" for a thirty-something, but not for a sixty-something, based on tax contributions they are likely to make.

The sixty-something will point out that they've made enough tax contributions to cover it already. False logic, it's true, but if the sixty-something lives until the next election they still have a vote and hence a say in how things are done.

Doctor Syntax
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

"I understand he is ridiculously toxic and an embarrassment to the country"

And to the Labour party which is why the OP was so anxious to call him a Tory. Actually I don't think he was either, he was a Blair through and through.

Adrian 4
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Re: @ wolfetone

@HmmmYes

If only that were true.

Terry 6
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

And, as noted today and other times recently (passim as Private Eye might say) the Blair government removed much of the restriction on the gambling industry, making it an open market industry, leading to the curse of the high speed gambling machines in all these betting shops (of which there are now far more, so that they can get around one of the few limitations; number of machines per den of vice) and the increased number of rather disingenuous, if not downright objectionable, gambling adverts on TV, particularly during the world cup when there were plenty of kids watching i.e. describing throwing money away by the bucket load as "more fun". hardly supporting traditional Labour principles.

Oh. And don't forget PFI.

Terry 6
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

And the idea of the NHS is pure humanity, not a pay monthly health treatment plan. When we are earning we pay tax and national Insurance. When we're not we are still 100% entitled to the full treatment to the extent it is beneficial.

strum
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

>Then it cannot possibly survive.

What can? The NHS is the cheapest possible health system. Any other would cost more - just in administration. And that's before you start treating people.

Those who attack the NHS must imagine that they will always be able to afford any health costs that might hit them, as they begin to fall apart, with age.

codejunky
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

@ strum

"What can?"

I wasnt attacking the NHS, I was just pointing out how the argument of always 'needing' more would remove its possibility of surviving. I disagreed with his choice of wording.

"Those who attack the NHS must imagine that they will always be able to afford any health costs that might hit them, as they begin to fall apart, with age."

That depends. The NHS is such an amazing and wonderful system that nobody in the world copies it. As health services go it could be much worse but it could also be much better.

strum
Silver badge

Re: @ wolfetone

>Oh. And don't forget PFI.

First implemented under the Major govt.

I'll warrant you have a hospital/school/clinic/pool/community centre, within easy reach of your gaff - which wouldn't exist but for PFI. Some PFI deals were badly negotiated, by inexperienced managers. That doesn't make PFI a bad idea.

EnviableOne
Bronze badge

Re: @ wolfetone

he's a red tory alright. first thing he did when he got in office is give himself a 50% payrise

ShadowDragon8685

Re: @ wolfetone

"I'm young, fit and healthy. I never need to go to the doctor! Why should I pay for obese geezers to get their DIABEEETUS medicine when they won't stop drinking sugary syrup-water by the bucketload?!" ~Basically every 'MURICAN who's never had to face a sudden and unexpected healthcare bill.

Source: Am 'Murican. Have had to face sudden unexpected healthcare bills. Would quite happily bend knee to HM the Queen in exchange for healthcare alone, let alone all the other good reasons to want out at the moment.

Bavaria Blu

Re: @ wolfetone

The UK has very little tax compared to out European peers with decent healthcare. In Germany the idea of putting away 20k tax free in an ISA forever is a fairy tail dream. €800 of interest and dividends and that's your lot. The public healthcare is comparible with private healthcare in the UK in my experience.

I think above average earners in the UK get away with paying very little tax. Council tax is the only local tax and it tops out at what 2k a year for a mansion?

BoldMan

If the processes they have constructed work with Fax machines, what is the problem? just because they aren't shiny new tech doesn't make it bad. If the process works, then be very careful when replacing it with shiny new bollocks because as we all know quite often it can end up as a retrograde step...

If the process is faulty, then replacing the fax machines won't necessarily fix the process.

Wensleydale Cheese
Silver badge

"If the process is faulty, then replacing the fax machines won't necessarily fix the process."

One of my first lessons in IT was to make sure a manual business process was sound before attempting to move it to a computer.

John Brown (no body)
Silver badge

"One of my first lessons in IT was to make sure a manual business process was sound before attempting to move it to a computer."

Yeah, it's called Systems Analysis. There used to be people called Systems Analysts. They've been replaced with people in shiny suits with MBAs.

Ian Emery
Silver badge

The NHS isnt alone

Our local Education Authority refuses to join the 21st Century as well; until we sold up 2 years ago, we had to keep a fax machine online 24/7 as it was the ONLY way they would send voucher payment details to us for 2, 3, and 4 year old funding..

AS1

User story

You have three options:

1. Place document on fax machine, type in extension number, send. ... Get receipt.

2. Place document on scanner, type in email address, send. ... Phone to check they got document (and confirm that pea-soup pdf filename from scanner's pea-soup email address is not Wannacry18).

3. Place document on scanner, scan. Walk to PC, open email, write "here's attached docs you asked for", remember not to click send, browse to network, attempt to find correct document with pea-soup filename on today's random network folder, now send. Delete file on network drive so not everyone can read it.

Yes, I'd pick #1 any day of the week, or night of the weekend for that matter.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: User story

That there is the problem, however the solution is to have the scanners that behave like fax machines where you can just press the email button and type in the email address and message. The only problem with that is either everyone has a scanner or you have a shared machine you log into to send a fax, again adding steps and leaving the problem of people forgetting to log out into the mix.

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