Most hospitals still reliant on hundreds of pagers

Written by Jessica Wilkins on 11 September 2017 in News
News

Report finds 93% of increasingly outdated devices still active in the UK are owned by hospitals

Pagers such as this Motorola model could be among the average of 591 used by each UK hospital  Credit: Jack-Benny Persson

Freedom of information requests from The Times newspaper showed how much the health service relies on out-dated technology.

Hospitals are still using 130,000 pagers, about 93% of the estimated 140,000 still working in Britain, the figures show.

The average hospital uses 591 pagers across their staff. Despite ministerial pledges to update the NHS using apps and big data, there are only three hospitals in the UK running without the aid of pagers.

The NHS is spending £6.6million per year on pagers, despite the savings opportunities modern technology offers.


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Freedom of Information responses from 141 hospitals, mental health and ambulance services to the technology company CommonTime found 129,429 pagers still in use.

Small hospitals were more reliant on ageing technology, with one pager for every 3.6 staff among the 10 lowest-income hospitals in the UK.

The 10 highest-income hospitals have one pager for every 8.6 staff members.

Rowan Pritchard Jones, chief clinical information officer at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Pagers represent 20th-century technology and are a blunt instrument for communication.

“Apart from a ‘fast bleep’ doctors have no sense of the urgency or priority of a call, end up writing down messages that can be lost, and often find a telephone number engaged when they do answer it. There has to be a more refined, accountable reliable way to communicate.”

Vodafone said in February that it would be selling off its pager network, leaving only one in Britain.

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