Got message? Get rid of pagers

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

Britain’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, is putting a bounty on pagers.

Well, not quite. But he is outlawing them in hospitals.

All National Health Service (NHS) trusts have been ordered to phase out the use of pagers so they are not used at all by the end of 2021. To make sure this happens, the hospitals must produce their plans and have infrastructure in place by September 2020.

The Conservative Party MP insists that it’s long past time for hospitals to step into the 21st century and use modern technology. Staff will be required to use mobile phones and apps instead of the outdated pager system.

Mr Hancock says modern technology is a more accurate, reliable and cost-effective way for hospitals to communicate with their staff. In December last year, he banned the use of fax machines in NHS hospitals.

“Every day, our wonderful NHS staff work incredibly hard in what can be challenging and high-pressured environments,” Mr Hancock said.

“The last thing they need are the frustrations of having to deal with outdated technology – they deserve the very best equipment to help them do their jobs.

“We have to get the basics right, like having computers that work and getting rid of archaic technology like pagers and fax machines. Email and mobile phones are a more secure, quicker and cheaper way to communicate which allow doctors and nurses to spend more time caring for patients rather than having to work round outdated kit.

“We want to build a health and care service which is fully able to harness the huge potential of technology. This will save lives, support hard-working staff and deliver the cutting-edge care set out by our Long Term Plan for the NHS.”

In 2017, a pilot project was carried out at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which is in Mr Hancock’s constituency and is one of the NHS’s Global Digital Exemplar sites.

The results of the pilot are reported to have saved junior doctors an average of 48 minutes per shift and nurses 21 minutes per shift.

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