GPs in England have been told to start changing their way of communicating with patients.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has set 2021 the target for commutation to be digitally sent via email rather than letters posted to patients.
He said there was no reason why doctors could not email a test result or prescription – although people who did not use email would still be able to request letters were sent.
It this move has come after he informed the removed of fax machines by next year.
Currently over 8,000 fax machines being used by the NHS according to research
Hancok said : “A letter lost in the post could be the difference between life and death.
“There is no reason why a doctor cannot email a patient confidentially, for example with their test results or prescription, rather than make them wait days for a letter or ask them to come in to the surgery.
“The rest of the world runs on email – and the NHS should too.”
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, who chairs Royal College of GPs, said: “Aspirations to use less paper and more modern communication techniques to improve the way we work with colleagues and improve patients’ experience of the health service are good.
“But the practicalities of how we do it need to be thought through carefully – current IT systems in the NHS are often clunky and frustrating.
“But there isn’t an easy fix and it is difficult to see how the wholesale changes being advocated can be done safely in the timescales being spoken about.”