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Old 9th Dec 2018, 8:32 am   #1
electronicskip
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Default Government bans fax machines in the NHS

This was on the news this morning.
Seems the Government will no longer be buying Fax machines for use in the NHS.

I suppose its a fairly antiquated method now but I still find mine useful on occasions and I know that lots of insurance companies still use them to fax over policies etc.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46497526
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 9:14 am   #2
barrymagrec
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

I haven`t received a fax for probably 15 years - it didn`t occur to me that anyone still used them.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 9:44 am   #3
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

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Originally Posted by barrymagrec View Post
I haven`t received a fax for probably 15 years - it didn`t occur to me that anyone still used them.

I can't say I'd be sorry to see them go. They are truly inferior to email, they waste paper and you can't add attachments. I know it's heresy to say this on a vintage restoration forum, but very occasionally newer technology is better than the old stuff
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:16 am   #4
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Good. They are a data protection nightmare. This is probably because one trust dumped about 20kg of patient records that had been faxed in an open skip last year. Idiots.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:16 am   #5
Bryan M
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

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...and you can't add attachments
Surely everything sent by fax is an attachment?
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:32 am   #6
Nuvistor
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Anyone remember getting work in the morning and the fax roll empty with lots of spam faxes behind the machine.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:39 am   #7
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

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Originally Posted by barrymagrec View Post
I haven`t received a fax for probably 15 years - it didn`t occur to me that anyone still used them.
Apparently the NHS is the biggest customer for new fax machines globally.

I can see why they have persisted for so long though - they are a simple technology with no integration or compatibility issues. It's easy to switch from postmen to fax machines, but hugely difficult to switch to anything better, no matter how much objective sense that might make.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:46 am   #8
lesmw0sec
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Well, perhaps there is now a good market for scanners instead.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 10:54 am   #9
MrBungle
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

They already have hundreds of drum scanners. They want to get rid of paper because people keep leaving it lying around, losing it, it’s expensive to move and archive, it’s flammable this tends to disappear in large chunks occasionally, doctors can’t write.

Big problem of all things is signatures. Written signatures don’t assign to accountability and medical professionals know that and don’t sign stuff properly. Digital signatures however are much harder to work around because if you use someone else’s credentials, the only way to forge one, you’re in breach of contract. Bye bye.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 11:07 am   #10
TrevorG3VLF
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

I used to use fax many years ago. The advantage as I remember was that the message printed on the sending machine was received from the receiver so you knew they had it. It did not ensure that they had read it though.

E-mail can be sent and not received either ever or after a long time.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 11:25 am   #11
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Is there anything in the fact that a fax cannot be hacked as easily as email so making it a more secure way to send a document ?
I think medical insurance companies for example used to only accept a fax for these reasons
Interesting most modern printers come with a fax facility !
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 11:45 am   #12
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

No. Most fax machines are network connected now. This means you can dial straight into them and exploit them and the hop onto local networks https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/0...t_fax_hacking/

As for security the trust is entirely inside the telecoms network then which is probably better than average security, but only assuming you dial the right number.

NHS use secure email mostly externally (outside N3) which doesn’t actually send the document but a link to it and you get sent a text message with a one time access code. You click the link and enter the access code. This is way more secure than plain email and plain fax.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 11:48 am   #13
Nuvistor
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

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Originally Posted by Goldieoldie View Post
Interesting most modern printers come with a fax facility !
Perhaps not most but they are available from all the main printer manufacturers, sometimes built in other times an option but many more without the facility.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 12:09 pm   #14
Leon Crampin
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

One feature of a fax message is that it doesn't come in an "envelope". This means that there is no local security whatsoever - whoever is near the machine as it outputs a message, can read it.

When I ran a small business, I was given a dud cheque by someone I knew to be an NHS consultant. I simply 'phoned the switchboard of the local hospital and asked them for the fax number of his department.

A curtly worded fax to the effect that I did not appreciate being given a dishonoured cheque produced speedy and successful results. It satisfied my displeasure, in that I knew that everyone from the fax operator upwards in his department would know about this.

More seriously, it's time Govt departments and agencies utilised technology properly, effectively and efficiently. It does not please me that Tesco have better control over their stocks of baked beans than the NHS does over my medical records.

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Old 9th Dec 2018, 12:44 pm   #15
MrBungle
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

NHS are getting there pretty well. It's the largest IT system on the planet. That comes with some unique challenges, ones from which I have learned a lot reading about them. Going back a few years ago they built their own backbone system (spine 2). This is all open source stuff (ubuntu linux, riak, erlang) and it works very well. Nothing of this complexity has been approached before. One typical process / workflow description document I read was nearly 500 pages long!

Tesco is incredibly simple in comparison.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 1:43 pm   #16
G8HQP Dave
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuvistor
Anyone remember getting work in the morning and the fax roll empty with lots of spam faxes behind the machine.
Yes. Most of our fax paper was used by spam. Very annoying.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 1:56 pm   #17
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leon Crampin View Post
One feature of a fax message is that it doesn't come in an "envelope". This means that there is no local security whatsoever - whoever is near the machine as it outputs a message, can read it.

When I ran a small business, I was given a dud cheque by someone I knew to be an NHS consultant. I simply 'phoned the switchboard of the local hospital and asked them for the fax number of his department.

A curtly worded fax to the effect that I did not appreciate being given a dishonoured cheque produced speedy and successful results. It satisfied my displeasure, in that I knew that everyone from the fax operator upwards in his department would know about this............

Leon.
This 'visibility to all' feature of fax has long been used effectively by credit controllers. There's nothing quite like it for pressurizing the customer's Accounts Payable desk into paying your bill!

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Old 9th Dec 2018, 2:10 pm   #18
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

Maybe they have stuck with fax as the NHS wrote off 10bn on a failed IT system only a few years ago.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 3:00 pm   #19
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

The fax machine has only recently gone from my office - it failed and wasn't deemed worth replacing - though it has been a long time since it had a separate line. It was in regular use as recently as six years ago and had occasionally come in useful since in specific circumstances.

Alternative means of communication are useful. The internet is great when it works but having experienced frequent outages (despite being in an urban area) total reliance on it is all eggs in one basket. Earlier this year I found myself driving to a customer with a brown envelope on one such occasion. On another I had to Royal Mail Special Delivery a DVD.

As for the comment upthread about people losing paper, IME they are far far better at losing emails - invariably in their hopelessly dis/unorganised computers. And don't get me started on USB sticks.* On a technical forum like this it is easy to make too many assumptions. Lack of competence at using email* is widespread and I have had to develop various strategies for dealing with this without embarrassing the person at the other end. It does sometimes test one's diplomacy and psychology powers to the limit.

If faxes are old hat then how about this: last week a job arrived by letter post! I say nothing - they pay well and promptly.

*I've been amazed at the sensitive information I have found that is not for my eyes when scrolling down an email. Last week I was given a stick which had the required files plus all sorts of others that clearly weren't for me.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 3:39 pm   #20
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Default Re: Government bans fax machines in the NHS

I filled out a form at my doctors several months ago to enable me to have access to certain medical information on-line. The form had to be signed by the actual doctor and it looks like they've just lost it. I'm probably going to ask them if they can assure me that it hasn't just been picked up by the cleaner or anyone else just passing through. There wasn't anything particularly personal on the form as far as I can remember, but still! I think there's far too much carelessness with confidential paperwork in these places, certainly there was at the place I used to work at until there was a severe tightening up and it all had to be collected by a specialist company for destruction.

I was given one of the old fax machines when they were all dumped at work a few years ago. The last time I used it at home was around 2001. It had the 'millennium bug' and the internal clock wouldn't go beyond the end of 1999, although that didn't stop it working as such. I'll have to drag it out of cold storage and see if it still works.
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