Axe the Fax. Why more communication with your GP could be through the post..

We had a local GP who, when frustrated with the local health service, or when he had a beef to complain about, would, in the days when faxes were de rigour, tape his fax message in a circle to the recipient, who would of course run out of paper as their machine kept repeat printing. This technique he used with his MP if he did not listen, as well as health departments.

My own surgery does not receive nearly as many faxes as it did, but there are some trusts who have never moved on. Far from sharing a database with their GPs, they keep losing paper, notes and the result is miscommunication and increased risk of mistakes, and litigation, inefficiency and cost.

Thank goodness patients never caught on that they could ask for appointments by fax!

The reason that written communication may become more common is the blocked phone lines, long waits for appointments, and general constipation of the system of seeing patients. I sometimes write with a Stamped Addressed Envelope (SAE) asking for an appointment. I can explain when I am absent, and when I would prefer to be seen. For a non urgent appointment this is very reasonable, but so few people do it. All written communications have to be scanned into the notes, unlike telephone calls, which are rarely recorded, especially with receptionists. This means any new symptoms which might be important are in the record, and an appointment will be forthcoming.

The Times reported 17th September: NHS trust axes faxes

An NHS trust has announced a “challenging” programme to bring its technology into the 1990s. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust, which runs six hospitals in and around the city, has pledged to remove 95 per cent of its 340 fax machines by the end of the year. “We simply cannot afford to continue living in the dark ages,” it said.

Healthcare IT news reported: CDIO Richard Corbridge leads ‘Axe the FaxNHS modernisation …

The Mail reported: Major technology upgrades promised for NHS in a ‘bonfire of fax

And Practice Business: Why healthcare should axe the fax

Image result for fax machine cartoon




This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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