Pagers and bleeps will be banished from the NHS within the next three years, the Health Secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has ordered NHS trusts to ensure that pagers and bleep systems are phased out by the end of 2021.
The NHS uses around 130,000 pagers at an annual cost of £6.6 million and more than one in 10 of the world’s pagers are used by the NHS. Most mobile phone companies have phased out support for pagers – meaning a single device can cost up to £400.
The Department of Health and Social Care has suggested staff turn to modern alternatives, such as mobile phones and ‘WhatsApp-style’ apps – delivering more accurate 2-way communications at a reduced cost.
NHS trusts will be allowed to keep some pagers for emergency situations, such as when Wi-Fi fails or when other forms of communication are unavailable.
Matt Hancock said: “Every day, our wonderful NHS staff work incredibly hard in what can be challenging and high-pressured environments. The last thing they need are the frustrations of having to deal with outdated technology – they deserve the very best equipment to help them do their jobs.
“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to communicate which allow doctors and nurses to spend more time caring for patients rather than having to work round outdated kit.
“We want to build a health and care service which is fully able to harness the huge potential of technology. This will save lives, support hard-working staff and deliver the cutting-edge care set out by our Long Term Plan for the NHS.