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NHS Trusts in the UK have been given until the end of 2020 to purge the use of all pagers for non-emergency communication in a bid to save money. Although the decades old comms tech may seem like it died out a long time ago, the NHS currently still uses around 130,000 pagers.

Why are pagers still important?

Pagers are one-way communication devices that can receive short messages or flashed phone numbers but cannot send replies. These devices are an icon of the 1980s before mobile phones became popular. Since then, most network operators have stopped supporting pagers, making them expensive to buy.

Despite the stereotype of pagers being an ‘old-fashioned’ technology, they remain a very crucial form of communication, especially in critical environments like hospitals. Many people in the medical industry are still using pagers, saying that the devices are useful in emergencies. For example, if there is a patient undergoing a medical emergency like a cardiac arrest, a pager holder would be able to send a message to numerous people in the cardiac arrest team in under a minute. This kind of quick response is crucial in critical situations where every second counts.

Pagers have also been praised for their speed and reliability. A pager network uses its own transmitters and dedicated radio frequencies that easily travel through building walls, making for excellent coverage and fast delivery of messages. That’s particularly helpful at times if a mobile network fails.

The controversial ban

UK’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock wants to ban pagers from the NHS calling them “archaic”. This is controversial to many since the NHS comprise 1/10 of the world’s total usage of pagers. Given that pagers will still be permitted for use in emergency situations (which is their main use anyway in the NHS) we must ask the question, is this really a ban at all?

Mobile phone apps and emails are set to replace pagers as many think that this method will be more secure and cost effective. However, the proposed replacements also come with their faults. Mobile phone network coverage can often be unreliable in hospitals and Wi-Fi is never guaranteed. This would obviously make using internet-based apps not totally reliable. For this reason, pagers will still be permitted for emergency purposes in instances where the alternatives are not feasible. Therefore it could be argued that the pager ban is unrealistic.

We’re supporting pager comms beyond 2021

If you are planning on continuing to rely on pager communications, we can support you. Here at MMX we’re a trusted name in pager repair, with over 15 years experience in supporting pager comms. We’ve performed over 200 pager repairs this year alone! All repairs are carried out in the UK and with our substantial stock of components, means that most of the time we can offer short lead times for our services.

With only one UK network provider currently supporting pager technology in the UK, this has driven the price of pager products up significantly. Save on costs by repairing your pagers where possible through our UK-based repair lab, to elongate the lifespan of your assets and avoid buying new. We support all the major brands of pagers including Unication, Motorola, Apollo, Commtech and more. Our expert engineers provide high quality workmanship, guaranteeing that your critical communications devices are handled with specialist care.

Get in touch today to learn more about extending the life of your pager devices beyond 2021.