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Health Secretary bans fax machines in NHS

NHS organisations will be monitored on a quarterly basis until they declare themselves ‘fax free’.

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NHS trusts will instead be required to invest in new technology to replace outdated systems.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced a nationwide ban on fax machines being used in the NHS.

The ban on buying fax machines takes effect from January 2019. They will be phased out by 31 March 2020. NHS organisations will be monitored on a quarterly basis until they declare themselves ‘fax free’.

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A freedom of information request revealed in July that more than 8,000 fax machines are still being used by the NHS in England

From April, NHS organisations will be required to use modern communication methods, such as secure email, to improve patient safety and cyber security.

It is part of the Health and Social Care Secretary’s tech vision, to modernise the health service and make it easier for NHS organisations to introduce innovative technologies.

‘Living in the dark ages’.

Richard Corbridge, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospital, said: “We don’t underestimate the enormity of the challenge to remove all our machines in such a short time frame, but we simply cannot afford to continue living in the dark ages.

“The ‘axe the fax’ campaign aims to empower staff rather than disarm them and so far the feedback has been positive – staff are recognising that on the one hand we have hugely innovative technology being implemented in the trust and on the other we have technology that hasn’t existed for decades in other industries.”

Richard Kerr, Chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Commission on the Future of Surgery, said: “Earlier this year, work undertaken for the RCS’s Commission on the Future of Surgery revealed that NHS hospital trusts own over 8,000 fax machines. This is absurd.

“Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up. The RCS supports the ban on fax machines that will come into place in March 2020.”

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Workforce

Patient safety in danger unless nurse numbers increased, warns RCN

The college is encouraging people to speak out about the impact of England’s nurse shortage.

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There have only been an extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013.

The shortage of nursing staff in England is putting patient safety in danger, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns today as it use the first World Patient Safety Day to launch a new campaign.

The campaign encourages the people to speak out about the potentially devastating impact of the nursing shortage.

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There are an estimated 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in England alone.

It calls for legislation to be brought forward in England to help address the nursing workforce crisis. Earlier this year, nurses and support workers in Scotland secured new legislation on safe staffing levels after a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

There are not enough nurses.

A new analysis by the RCN shows that for every one extra nurse NHS acute Trusts in England have managed to recruit in the five years since 2013/14, there were 157 extra admissions to hospital as emergencies or for planned treatment.

Last year the number of extra admissions for every additional nurse taken on increased to 217.  The analysis shows that the extra 9,894 nurses recruited to NHS hospitals since 2013/14 is dwarfed by the additional 1,557,074 admissions over the same period.

Public carried out to mark the campaign launch reveals that 71 per cent of the public think there are not enough nurses to provide safe care to patients and 67 per cent of the public in England wrongly think the Government has a legal responsibility to ensure there are sufficient nursing staff.

The 2013 Francis Report on failings of care Stafford Hospital concluded that the main factor responsible was a significant shortage of nurses at the hospital.

Issuing a stark warning

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said: “Today we’re issuing a stark warning that patient safety is being endangered by nursing shortages.  Staffing shortfalls are never simply numbers on a spreadsheet – they affect real patients in real communities.

“We’re calling on the public in England to fight for nurses and sign our petition calling on the Westminster Government to invest in the future workforce and make clear who is accountable in law for safe patient care. 

“Our polling shows almost two-thirds of people already fear there aren’t enough nurses to provide safe care – and they want recruiting more nurses to be the top priority for any extra funding for the NHS in England. 

“Nurses are the single most trusted professional group in the whole country, with 96% of the public placing them at the top of a list of occupations including doctors, teachers, the police and scientists.  Nursing staff are asking for your support in calling time on this crisis.”

‘Too much pressure’.

Responding to the RCN’s campaign on safe and effective staffing for patient care; Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said: “Every time we, or someone we love, needs care, we trust nurses and midwives with the right skills and knowledge to be there to meet our needs.

“The RCN analysis echoes some of the NMC’s own findings. Our survey of nurses and midwives leaving the register revealed that almost a third of respondents cited too much pressure leading to stress and/or poor mental health as a top reason for leaving. And our research with the public tells us they fear these most trusted professionals are held back by the pressures of today’s health and care system.

“You only have to look at some of the stories we are sharing in our Always Caring, Always Nursing campaign to see the difference these dedicated professionals can make in people’s lives.

“Additional resources to support nurses and midwives is a wise investment now and for the future.”

You can sign a petition to support the campaign. 

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Emergency Medicine

People living in deprived areas visit A&E twice as much as the affluent

Nearly 25 million people attended A&E in 2018-19.

Laura Townsend

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Busy A&E waiting room

Over a quarter of all A&E attendances are by the 20% of the population living in the most deprived areas.

Accident & Emergency (A&E) attendances for those living in most deprived areas are around double that of those living in the least deprived, official figures have revealed.

NHS Digital’s data on Hospital Accident & Emergency Activity in 2018-19 show that the bottom 10% account for the largest number of A&E attendances of any group, with just over 3 million attendances in 2018-19. In contrast, the top 10% only accounted for around 1.5 million A&E attendances.

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Expanding these figures further shows that 27% of all A&E attendances are by the 20% of the population living in the most deprived areas.

A recent study suggested that socioeconomic such as poor housing quality, unemployment, self-care difficulties, depression, and proximity increased a person’s likelihood of attending an A&E service.

The report includes data from all types of Accident and Emergency departments ranging from major A&E departments, single specialty, consultant-led emergency departments to Minor Injury Units and Walk-in Centres.

An overall increase in attendances.

Looking at all arrival times, 1.5% of all attendances in 2018-19 spent more than 12 hours in A&E, compared with 1.6% the previous year.

The data also shows a 4% increase in attendances to A&E from 23.8 million in 2017-18 to 24.8 million in 2018-19 and a 21% increase from 20.5 million in 2009-10. Since 2009-10, the average growth in A&E attendances per year is 2%.

An NHS spokesperson said; “Over a busy summer, NHS staff have continued to deliver more care than ever before for those who need it, with 37,000 more people receiving A&E treatment within four hours this August compared with last August.”

“July also saw the highest ever number of people in a month benefiting from fast NHS cancer checks, other routine tests and rapid treatment for serious mental health problems, while an extra 1,600 people started planned treatment every day compared to last year, showing that every part of the health service is playing its part in meeting the rising demand for care.”

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