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Frank Hovis

When did you last use a fax machine?

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I genuinely can't remember; certainly not since 2000.  I'd be pretty confident that I haven't used one for twenty years.  For me they went out about the same time as 5.25" floppy discs.

The NHS however, with its cutting edge systems, is not only still using them but still buying them.  I ddn't even know that you could still buy them.

They don't bother to improve because they don't have to - they are just given yet more taxpayers' money to waste.

Their systems are laughably bad.

 

Quote

 

NHS told to ditch 'absurd' fax machines

The NHS will be banned from buying fax machines from next month - and has been told by the government to phase out the machines entirely by 31 March 2020.

In July, the Royal College of Surgeons revealed nearly 9,000 fax machines were in use across the NHS in England.

The Department of Health said a change to more modern communication methods was needed to improve patient safety and cyber security.

An RCS spokesman said they supported the government's decision.

In place of fax machines, the Department of Health said secure email should be used.

Richard Kerr, who is the chair of the RCS's commission on the future of surgery, said the continued use of the outdated technology by the NHS was "absurd".

He added it was "crucial" that the health service invested in "better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated" in the future.

The group's report from earlier this year found the use of fax machines was most common at the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust, which still relied on 603 machines.

Three-quarters of the trusts in England replied to the survey - 95 in total. Ten trusts said that they did not own any fax machines, but four in ten reported more than 100 in use.

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46497526

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FAX machines were an incredibly bad idea, but they were useful for a time.

You took a document, scanned it, turned it into digits, and then sent it across an analog phone system designed for low quality voice, when it gets turned back into a blurred piece of paper again.

Heath-Robinson.O.o

FYI, a FAX was not considered a legally binding document, but a Telex message was.

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Still used regularly in Germany in most public offices. I had to send a fax last year, fortunately still had an old laptop with a working inbuilt modem and a real phone line at the time.

I have a different take on it. It's much harder to sell my personal information when it's on a stack of faxes stored in a filing cabinet behind a locked cellar door with "Beware of the leopard" on it than if it's all stored as electronic data on IT systems that will cost ten times as much to implement as planned and even then won't work properly. I've worked on too many IT projects to trust that they will ever do what they're supposed to do, or act in my interest.

As for "vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated" - please don't. You'll only sell it.

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3 minutes ago, MrPin said:

FAX machines were an incredibly bad idea, but they were useful for a time.

You took a document, scanned it, turned it into digits, and then sent it across an analog phone system designed for low quality voice, when it gets turned back into a blurred piece of paper again.

Heath-Robinson.O.o

FYI, a FAX was not considered a legally binding document, but a Telex message was.

I remember their being incredibly cool and cutting edge in the late 80s along with Filofaxes and stripy clothing from Next.

That was rather a long time ago though.

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1 minute ago, Frank Hovis said:

I remember their being incredibly cool and cutting edge in the late 80s along with Filofaxes and stripy clothing from Next.

That was rather a long time ago though.

Filofax!:CryBaby: Oh no. Stupidity is nothing new eh?

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Just now, MrPin said:

Filofax!:CryBaby: Oh no. Stupidity is nothing new eh?

I'd seen them mentioned in Private Eye but didn't know what they were.  I remember asking a friend in the college bar and she said that they comprised an ?A6 ring bider with loose leaf inserts including a calendar and address book.   It was a massive triumph of marketing to somehow make this the "must have" fashion accessory for about ten years by making the ring binder look ever more posh.

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Just now, Frank Hovis said:

I'd seen them mentioned in Private Eye but didn't know what they were.  I remember asking a friend in the college bar and she said that they comprised an ?A6 ring bider with loose leaf inserts including a calendar and address book.   It was a massive triumph of marketing to somehow make this the "must have" fashion accessory for about ten years by making the ring binder look ever more posh.

No, I bought those pixie boots and leg-warmers. What a nob I must have looked?

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Filofaxes had their place, like fax machines, if you were something like a sales rep. Bit of a funny status symbol as at the time most people in more important jobs would have had a secretary or PA.

 

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To be fair to the Filofax it was fairly revolutionary in its day. Before that people used to store phone numbers etc in diaries. That meant each year you had to transfer information to your new diary. A Filofax meant you could simply install a new diary into your Filofax.

Anyone remember dot matrix printers? I used to find the noise from them quite therapeutic.

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Fax machines are actually quite good in terms of security. A lot harder to hack a phone line than someone's email acount. Although the last generation of "fax machines" were merely a fax interface to storing the data on a computer so that kind of detracted a bit. 

9 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

Anyone remember dot matrix printers? I used to find the noise from them quite therapeutic.

Qume daisy wheel printers! Now they were something to avoid if you had a hangover.

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3 minutes ago, Funn3r said:

Fax machines are actually quite good in terms of security. A lot harder to hack a phone line than someone's email acount. Although the last generation of "fax machines" were merely a fax interface to storing the data on a computer so that kind of detracted a bit. 

 

Lots of mail to fax programs sprang up. I recall there was one included in Windows XP.

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14 minutes ago, Great Guy said:

To be fair to the Filofax it was fairly revolutionary in its day. Before that people used to store phone numbers etc in diaries. That meant each year you had to transfer information to your new diary. A Filofax meant you could simply install a new diary into your Filofax.

Anyone remember dot matrix printers? I used to find the noise from them quite therapeutic.

Dot matrix printers are still used in a lot of sectors.

 

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7 minutes ago, Funn3r said:

Fax machines are actually quite good in terms of security. A lot harder to hack a phone line than someone's email acount. Although the last generation of "fax machines" were merely a fax interface to storing the data on a computer so that kind of detracted a bit. 

Qume daisy wheel printers! Now they were something to avoid if you had a hangover.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletype_Model_33

One of these caught on fire, when I printed the production log.

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1 hour ago, Alex said:

Still used regularly in Germany in most public offices. I had to send a fax last year, fortunately still had an old laptop with a working inbuilt modem and a real phone line at the time.

I have a different take on it. It's much harder to sell my personal information when it's on a stack of faxes stored in a filing cabinet behind a locked cellar door with "Beware of the leopard" on it than if it's all stored as electronic data on IT systems that will cost ten times as much to implement as planned and even then won't work properly. I've worked on too many IT projects to trust that they will ever do what they're supposed to do, or act in my interest.

As for "vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated" - please don't. You'll only sell it.

 

49 minutes ago, Funn3r said:

Fax machines are actually quite good in terms of security. A lot harder to hack a phone line than someone's email acount. Although the last generation of "fax machines" were merely a fax interface to storing the data on a computer so that kind of detracted a bit. 

Qume daisy wheel printers! Now they were something to avoid if you had a hangover.

 

Points taken but whilst there may be a niche use for faxes as an adjunct to other methods of communication I severly doubt that this is why they continue in use in the NHS.

It is because it is not run properly.

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I don't see the problem -- this is an organisation that:

  • Currently has a system that actually works, and it (amazingly) secure against the main security threats these days.
  • Has a history of not being able to successfully integrate technology into their operations, even after overspending on their tech multiple times.
  • And then, if they do integrate technology, it breaks (whether by buying cheap, poor design, hacking, whatever -- it'll break) , throwing the whole system into mayhem and inconveniencing many many thousands of people, if not risking life.

I think they should just be left to it.

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10 minutes ago, dgul said:

I don't see the problem -- this is an organisation that:

  • Currently has a system that actually works, and it (amazingly) secure against the main security threats these days.
  • Has a history of not being able to successfully integrate technology into their operations, even after overspending on their tech multiple times.
  • And then, if they do integrate technology, it breaks (whether by buying cheap, poor design, hacking, whatever -- it'll break) , throwing the whole system into mayhem and inconveniencing many many thousands of people, if not risking life.

I think they should just be left to it.

Its also an organisation that fails organise treatment and coordinate itself

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/18/serious-errors-such-as-operating-on-wrong-patient-still-occurring-in-nhs

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3 minutes ago, spygirl said:

Yes, and by updating from faxes to a fancy new IT system (no doubt provided via Crapita/Serco or similar), they'll be able to fail far more efficiently, harming many more patients at only 10,000 times the cost.

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