New Telephone System
Why are you changing your phone system?
When patients are unhappy about our service, their complaint often relates in some way to our telephone system and waiting times and we want to address this.
We currently have 3 different phone systems of varying ages. One of these has recently died completely and cannot be fixed. Although still functional, the remaining 2 systems, do not have the latest technology that is now available to improve call handling.
When will the new phone system be operational?
We have had engineers on site for the last 3 weeks installing all the new cabling that is required. We will ‘go-live’ with the new system on the following dates:
- Hedon and Keyingham – Wednesday 16 September 2020
- Withernsea, Roos and Patrington – Thursday 17 September 2020
Will the practice phone number be changing?
We wanted to introduce a single ‘one practice’ phone number for Holderness Health. However, we also recognise that due to the way KCOM tariffs work, many of our patients may have free or low-cost ‘local’ calls included with their package. To avoid anyone having to pay more to call us, we have arranged to ‘port’ our main numbers to the new network. This means that you will be able to reach us by calling the same number as you have always rung. Depending on where you were originally registered as a patient, this will be one of the following:
- 01482 899348 (Church View Surgery old number)
- 01482 899111 (Hedon Group Practice old number)
- 01964 613221 (South Holderness Medical Practice old number)
We will also have a new phone number - 0333 332 4242 – which you can also call if you prefer.
We have included below some further information about 0333 numbers but if you have any concerns, we suggest you check costs with landline or mobile provider and/or continue to use the old geographical numbers.
What are 0333 numbers?
An 0333 number is a special type of landline-rate phone number used by businesses and various other organisations.
Unlike traditional landline phone numbers, 0333 numbers are not linked with specific geographic locations. However, the cost to call an 0333 number within the UK is always the same as calling a normal home or business landline.
What are the call costs to an 0333 number?
A call to an 0333 number costs the same as a call to a normal home or business landline.
All numbers that start with 03 are charged at the same rate as standard landline numbers that start with '01' or '02'. If your phone tariff offers inclusive calls to landlines, calls to 0333 numbers will also be included on the same basis.
0333 number from a landline
Included in any applicable call packages, otherwise standard landline rates.
0333 number from a mobile
Included in talktime and bundled minutes, otherwise standard landline rates.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom specifically prohibits phone companies from charging more to call an 03 number than a standard landline, as detailed in their call costs guide.
Please remember that some KCOM tariffs may offer you inclusive ‘local’ calls (e.g. starting with 01482) but not inclusive ‘national’ calls starting with other 01,02 or 03 prefixes. If you are unsure, please check with your provider or continue to use the same number you have always rung.
What will be different when I ring the practice?
You may notice a number of changes when you call the practice. These include:
We will have a new patient message once you get through to us. This may change over time but we have gone with a very simple setup to start with. Our new system allows us to change messages much more easily so we will not have to wait for an engineer or be charged when we need to alter things.
The choice of menu options may be different so please listen carefully to ensure you are directed correctly.
Number of Lines
We will have an increased number of lines so we hope that you will receive the engaged tone less often.
All patients will now receive an announcement telling them their place in the queue. This was previously only available for Withernsea patients (and more recently Church View patients while the temporary system has been in place.) We had some problems with the old queuing system with people getting ‘stuck’ in the queue and we hope that such issues will now be resolved.
The new system includes a ‘queue buster’ option. This means that when you call the surgery, you will be given the option to save your position in a virtual queue. You can then end the call and the phone system will automatically call you back when you near the front of the queue.
Your call may now be answered by our team based at any of our sites. This is aimed at reducing waiting times. If one location is quieter on any given day, they will automatically be able to relieve the pressure at another site that is experiencing a higher number of calls.
Dispensary Enquiry Line
Our new phone system will enable us to extend the opening hours of our dispensary enquiry line as we can manage the calls across our dispensary teams on all sites. We want to ensure that the new system is working correctly first but once we are satisfied that this is the case, we will be extending the dispensary enquiry line hours so that it is open to all patients from 9am to 5pm. We will share more information about this shortly.
We will now be recording all incoming and outgoing calls. This will help us resolve complaints, address instances of verbal abuse against our staff and improve staff training and education.
If you would like to know more about how this data is used, please read our Privacy Notice for Recording of Telephone Conversations which is available on our website on the Privacy Notice page.
Will the new phone system do anything else to improve the service offered to patients?
There are a number of ‘behind the scenes’ features of the new phone system that will support better service delivery. These include:
We will very easily be able to contact colleagues no matter where they are working across all our sites as we are effectively ‘one system’. We won’t need to know exactly which site and which room they are in today in order to reach them.
Clinical System Integration
The new phone system will integrate with our clinical system. This means that dialling patient numbers can be done from within the patient record. This is important to us because it means that we can save time on every call that we make, speeding things up for patients.
We will have much greater control over what happens to calls coming into the practice. For example, if we had a problem with one of our buildings and had to evacuate, calls can be easily directed to be answered at another location.
The system also has a back-up mobile facility which means that if the main network goes down, we should be able to seamlessly transition to the back-up mobile devices.
We will have access to both live and historic call data. This will allow us to see how many calls we are receiving, at what times of day and how long people had to queue. It will take some time for the data to build up into a clear picture but when it does, it will allow us to plan our staffing much more effectively, ensuring that the right number of staff are working at peak times.
What about the future?
We spent a lot of time looking at what different companies could offer us before making our final choice. Part of the reason for our final choice was that the company have some exciting ideas for the future which we hope help us continue to improve services to our patients.
What could go wrong?
The main things that could go wrong are:
- Our old numbers fail to ‘port’ across on time
- There is a failure with the new connections that have been put into each building
- There is a failure with the software that runs the system
Any of these things could impact on people being able to reach us.
If on ‘go-live’ day you call one of our old numbers and don’t get through this could be because there has been a delay in them being ‘ported’ across. If this happens, please try calling the 0333 number or call back on one of the old numbers later in the day.
What if things do go wrong?
Doing nothing was not an option for us. Patients frequently tell us that they experience problems with our current system. We had to make a change and we are as confident as we can be in our planning and implementation. That said, this is a massive project. It has been months in the planning and we have had engineers on site for 3 weeks which gives you an idea of the scale of the work that needed to be done.
We hope that nothing will go wrong and the ‘go-live’ will be smooth sailing. But if we do encounter a problem, our team, supported by the phone company, will do our best to resolve issues and communicate with patients. Because of the short-notice nature of any communications we will need to send, this will be mainly via Facebook, our website and by text message so please look out for anything we send out in these ways. Our website address is www.holdernesshealth.nhs.net and our Facebook page is @HoldernessHealth.
Our staff will all be trained on the new system but it will be unfamiliar and they will be learning as we go along. Please be patient and understanding with them as they are always trying to do their best to help you, sometimes in very difficult circumstances.