IF YOU RUN a business that exclusively sells fax machines, then we have some bad news. The last people in the world who seem to buy the things won't be able to do so from next month, thanks to a much-needed government intervention.
Back in July, the Royal College of Surgeons revealed that there were nearly 9,000 fax machines being used by the NHS across England. That's roughly 9,000 too many, and not only has the government said the health service can't buy any more, it also has to stop using them completely by 31 March 2020 - just 178 short years after the device was invented.
In perhaps the most obvious statement this year, the Department of Health said that more modern communications were required to improve patient security. For reference, here is a non-exhaustive list of communication methods that are more modern than fax machines:
- The Pony Express
- The phonograph
- BlackBerry Messenger
Unsurprisingly, it's the last of these that the government wants the NHS to adopt, once it's completely weaned off the fax. This will be easier for some than others: the RCS's survey revealed that of the 95 NHS trusts that replied to the survey, just ten owned no fax machines at all, while 40 per cent claimed to have more than 100 in use. Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust apparently uses a whopping 603 fax machines.
Richard Kerr, chair of the RCS's commission on the future of surgery told the BBC that this reliance on such old technology was "absurd." Making many enemies in the powerful fax-machine industry, he added that it was crucial that the NHS invested in "better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated" from now on.
So if you're in the market for a brand-new fax machine, it's probably worth checking Ebay on 1 April 2020. Or your local landfill right now. µ
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