Scottish Government “blinkered” over refusal to ban NHS fax machine

The Scottish Government’s refusal to ban health authorities from using fax machines is “blinkered” and is keeping services in the dark ages, according to an MSP.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart, was reacting to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman’s reply to a Parliamentary Question he lodged.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, asked whether the Government planned to ban the use of fax machines by the NHS and, if so, whether usage would be phased out by March 2020.

Ms Freeman’s reply was short and sweet – it had no plans.

“Health authorities are being left with technology which belongs in a museum,” said Mr Stewart.

“This reply is very short sighted and blinkered, leaving Ms Freeman unable to see clearly what’s needed for the future of the health service,” said Mr Stewart.

“It’s a sign of the Government letting things slip over the last 10 years. Services are creaking at the seams and up-to-date technology could help save time and money.

Mr Stewart believes that NHS boards in Scotland should be banned from buying fax machines and a date should be made for them to be phased out entirely.

He previously asked health boards in Scotland how many had fax machines and was shocked to discover that more than 1,200 were still in use across the country.

The Department of Health in England has now banned the buying of machines and said their use should be phased out by 2020.

This followed a Royal College of Surgeons investigation, which found nearly 9,000 fax machines were in use across NHS England.

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

WRITTEN ANSWER

8 January 2019

Index Heading: Health and Social Care

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to ban the use of fax machines by the NHS and, if so, whether usage will be phased out by March 2020.

S5W-20632

Jeane Freeman: The Scottish Government has no plans to ban the use of fax machines in NHSScotland.