GPs want to be at the forefront of technology but need significant investment in core IT services, says RCGP

Matt Hancock recently banned the NHS from buying fax machines and has ordered a complete phase-out by April 2020. NHS trusts will instead be required to invest in new technology to replace outdated systems.

Responding to the NHS decision to phase out fax machines in hospitals, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s highly ironic that the world is in the middle of a technical ‘tsunami’ and yet the NHS is still reliant on equipment such as fax machines.

“However, while fax machines may be terribly old-fashioned, they do work and remain a highly valued and reliable form of communication between many GP surgeries and their local hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies.

“A wholesale switchover to electronic communication seems like a brilliant idea but for some practices it would require significant financial investment in robust systems to ensure their reliability was at least as good as the trusty fax machine, as well as having the time to embed – neither of which we have at present as GP teams are already beyond capacity trying to cope with unprecedented patient demand.

“GPs are tech fans, not technophobes, and we have been calling on the Government for significant investment in our core IT infrastructure, some of which is archaic, so that all GP practices have technology that improves communication, works for patients and makes the working lives of GPs easier.”