CommonTime, a digital solutions company, has compiled a report on the use of pagers within the NHS.
According to CommonTime’s findings an estimated 130,000 pagers are still being used within the NHS with an annual cost of roughly £6,600,000. The NHS could possibly make a £2,700,000 saving by replacing the pagers with dedicated mobile phone software.
Chief clinical information officer from St Helens and Knowsley teaching hospitals NHS trust, Rowan Pritchard Jones, has spoken out about pagers and their use in the NHS. He 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.”
In a move affecting the use of pagers within the NHS, Vodafone announced in May this year that it will be shutting down its pager operations. With Vodafone pulling out of the pager market it will leave only one supplier to cover the UK market.
CommonTime is surprised that pagers are “relied upon in emergency situations so heavily” and went on to say that they “cannot continue to exist in the NHS any more”.
While CommonTime is confident that pagers should be scrapped, Geoff Hall, from the Informatics Leeds Cancer Centre, has pointed out that pagers still have positives.
“Pagers seem like old technology, but they still exist purely for their inherent high levels of resilience. They are simple to use, i.e. calls can be pushed out by ringing one number, there is an audit trail, the device is easy to carry, and the battery lasts months, not hours.
“They do only one task, but they do it well. They provide a last line of defence”.