NHSX offers £3m tender to phase out pagers

The initial two-year contract aims to devise a framework for technologies that can replace the legacy system

The National Health Service (NHS) has put out a multi-year contract for tender for a company to support its ambitions to phase out pagers by 2021 and implement a replacement system. 

Worth £3 million, the contract seeks to recruit an organisation to design a framework for a secure messaging system with image sharing, call functionality and a staff directory linked the global NHS address book.

The clinical communication tools framework developed in the place of pagers must also abide by several regulations from patient safety rules to data protection laws. 

The initial two-year deal, with an optional year-long extension, will also include requirements for patient lists, task management, video calling, and ERP integration, although these are not compulsory. 

The health secretary Matt Hancock last year announced NHS Trusts in England would be forced to phase out pagers in hospitals by 2021. At the time, the NHS used approximately 130,000 pagers at a cost of £6.6 million, amounting to one in ten of the world’s pagers.

“The Secretary of State announced that NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021 and to move to more modern communication tools,” the contract’s description page said. 

“The agreed approach, therefore, needs to ensure that NHS trusts can award contracts to suitably qualified and experienced suppliers who can deliver against this requirement, whilst promoting innovation and delivering against a digital maturity model.

“The framework agreements together with connected call-off agreements will provide contract vehicles for NHS Trusts and Hospitals to purchase systems and services which are assured against the frameworks specifications and standards.”

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Some trusts had already tried alternative technologies when Hancock announced his intention to scrap pagers last year. A pilot project at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, for example, in 2017 saved junior doctors 48 minutes per shift, and nurses 21 minutes.

The need to scrap pagers has been deemed even more critical following reports in October 2019 that radio hobbyists intercepted sensitive data broadcast by pagers, and leaked the information to the internet. 

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