Axe the Fax campaign leads to government ban of fax machines by April 2020
Co-Founder, Silver Buck
National campaign led by Leeds Teaching Hospitals has received dozens of pledges from NHS organisations who have committed to removing fax machines ahead of today’s announcement.
London, 9th December: An NHS campaign to remove fax machines across the health sector has led to the government announcing a ban of fax machines by April 2020.
The Axe the Fax campaign, which was launched in September, has been encouraging NHS organisations to pledge to remove their fax machines and share information, challenges and best practices with each other, largely through social media, to speed up the process.
Up until the launch of the campaign, which also features a dedicated Axe the Fax toolkit, there has been no guidance, advice or funding to support health and care organisations to improve stakeholder engagement or to change their processes to enable them to switch off the machines.
Richard Corbridge, Chief Digital Information Office at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which initiated the campaign when it announced It would remove its 340 fax machines by the end of 2018 said: “There is a huge disjoint in the digitisation of the NHS. While some areas are looking at artificial intelligence, others are still faxing patient information from one area of the hospital to another.
“Today’s announcement that fax machines will not be purchased from next month and be banned from March 2020 is a landmark in the Axe the Fax campaign, which has been locally led and driven and received huge buy-in not only from NHS organisations across the country but as far as the US and Australia.”
Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Commission on the Future of Surgery, who carried our research earlier this year that determined that there were more than 8,000 fax machines in use across the NHS said: “Well done to Leeds Teaching Hospitals for leading the way and pledging to ‘axe the fax’.
We hope that other NHS trusts continue to take note and join the campaign. It is ludicrous that so much of the NHS is still reliant on fax machines to communicate. There are very exciting technologies coming down the road that promise to transform the way we provide medical care to patients. The NHS needs a modern communications system that matches up to these technological advances.”
The Axe the Fax campaign has received interest from more than 100 NHS organisations and has already received commitments from more than 20 trusts who have begun to strip out their machines.
Sarah Bruce, Co-Founder and Director of Silver Buck, who developed and supported The Leeds Teaching Hospitals in the roll out the Axe the Fax Campaign said: “Over half of medical errors are a result of miscommunication, and the continued use of fax machines has played a part in that. Organisations are coming from very different starting points, some are fax free whereas others are barely using NHSMail as a means of communication. The March 2020 deadline needs to take this into account and the Axe the Fax campaign will continue to enable sharing of support and guidance so each organisations doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to achieve the same end goal.”
In addition to providing support and guidance on the removal of fax machines and link NHS trusts who face similar issues with each other the campaign also continues to track and update the number of machines being used in the NHS.
Padraig O’Neill – EMEA Managing Director of J2, just one of the health technology organisations that is providing alternative fax solutions in healthcare, said: “This hugely important announcement will finally help to root out archaic technologies and inefficient processes that can be detrimental to patient safety and care.
“The NHS has more than 8,000 fax machines embedded in its workflows and processes, but even though it won’t be as simple as pulling the plug tomorrow, this announcement will encourage health and care organisations to implement simple technologies that can enable staff to digitally send, receive, access, store and audit faxes in the same way that they can email – almost immediately.
“Not only do these newer technologies offer added security for patient information – which can currently be left on a fax machine for anyone to see – but they also have the potential to greatly improve productivity, ensure more timely decision making for patients and reduce costs in the system.”
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