The NHS has been ordered to halt its use of fax machines as part of a large-scale modernisation project.
The UK's health body will be officially banned from buying new fax machines from next month, with the aim of phasing out all such products by March 31 2020, according to new guidelines from the Department of Health.
Hospitals will instead be urged to upgrade to more modern forms of communication such as secure email.
NHS fax ban
The change follows research from the Royal College of Surgeons earlier this year which found that nearly 9,000 fax machines were still in use across England, including 603 at Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Trust.
The RCS says it supports the government's decision, with the chair of the commission on the future of surgery Richard Kerr calling the NHS' continued use of outdated technology as "absurd".
“Advances in artificial intelligence, genomics and imaging for healthcare promise exciting benefits for patients,” he added. “As these digital technologies begin to play a bigger part in how we deliver healthcare, it is crucial that we invest in better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated.
“Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up."
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