Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told NHS trusts in England they will have to phase out the use of pagers by the end of 2021.
He said staff will have to use alternatives for two-way communications, emphasising the potential of mobile phone apps, and that all hospitals will be expected to have plans and infrastructure in place by the end of September 2020.
But they will be able to keep some pagers for emergency situations, such as when Wi-Fi fails or when other forms of communication are unavailable.
The announcement highlighted that pagers do not support the sharing of information between staff on the move, and most mobile phone companies have now phased out support for the devices.
It also pointed to a pilot project at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) in 2017, in which the Medic Bleep messaging and calling system saved junior doctors 48 an average of minutes per shift and nurses 21 minutes.
Secure, quicker, cheaper
Hancock said: “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to communicate which allow doctors and nurses to spend more time caring for patients rather than having to work round outdated kit.”
The move follows his recent announcements that NHS organisations should use emails rather than paper messages and banning the use of fax machines from April of next year.
The NHS uses around 130,000 pagers at an annual cost of £6.6 million. More than one in 10 of the world’s pagers are used by the NHS.
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