Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has ordered the removal of pagers for non-emergency communications by the end of 2021
Matt Hancock has ordered that NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, as part of the large-scale digitisation of the health service.
Staff will be required to use modern alternatives, such as mobile phones and apps. They can deliver more accurate two-way communications at a reduced cost.
A pilot project at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) two years ago saved junior doctors 48 minutes per shift, and nurses 21 minutes on average.
Currently, the NHS uses around 130,000 pagers at an annual cost of £6.6m. 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, leaving only one provider in the UK. As such, a single device can cost up to £400.
NHS trusts will be allowed to keep some pagers for emergency situations, such as when wifi fails or when other forms of communication are unavailable.
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 The last thing they need are the frustrations of having to deal with outdated technology – they deserve the very best equipment to help them do their jobs.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to communicate which allow doctors and nurses to spend more time caring for patients rather than having to work round outdated kit.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.”