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Hospital call base overhaul (Read 11,347 times)
idb
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Hospital call base overhaul
Mar 20th, 2007 at 1:06am
 
http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1261631.0.hospital_...

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A RADICAL overhaul has been ordered for an overworked call centre used by cancer sufferers, the disabled and kidney disease patients.

People using the Royal Preston Hospital service would often find themselves 'cut off' if an operator had not answered their call within six minutes.

Health chiefs, concerned at the impact on patients, then introduced a temporary 'call back' alternative in December, which allowed call centre staff to get back in touch with 3,700 patients or staff using the service.

But concerns emerged that this solution was both inconvenient for patients and an inefficient use of staff time.

Now this system is being overhauled again with the unveiling of a new business-rate 0844 number, which will go live tomorrow.

[...]

The new service is being offered in conjunction with NTL Telewest, and will feature call queuing and 'hunting' mechanisms, which should ensure callers are not greeted with an engaged tone, or 'cut off'.

Mike Rose, business development director at the hospital, said: "It is anticipated that the new system will be in place by the weekend in order to perform a full testing of the system.

"Roll out will then take place and the old system will be removed by the end of March.

"When the system is in place, strict performance targets for answering calls will be set."

>>

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As from November 21, 2013, I no longer participate in the forum and am unable to receive private messages.
 
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Heinz
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PAY TO WAIT IN A QUEUE
Reply #1 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 3:10pm
 
Wonderful, truly wonderful!

So now patients who, before, risked being cut off (but not charged anything) if the operator had not answered their call within 6 minutes, will now be 'answered' immediately but will have to contribute another 5p per minute to the NHS for the privilege of being allowed to listen to ring tone (or music, or endless menus) whilst they wait for someone to get round to answering their call.

What a tremendous improvement!

Er, no it's not actually.  The solution for an 'overworked call centre' is to get more staff so they can answer more calls, not to get a costly (to the patients, who have already paid for the NHS) automated telephone system to queue the calls.

Oh I do love New Labour's compassionate society.
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« Last Edit: Mar 20th, 2007 at 3:20pm by Heinz »  

After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
WWW  
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gudman
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #2 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 5:39pm
 
again we are being ripped off by the nhs managers who get lots of money to get nhs to this state, i agree with heinz, why cant they get enogh staff to answe the calls, istead they decided to go on a NGN which will rip off patients and get benefit from these calls. i believe these managers might have got some money from these service providers.
gudman
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mikeinnc
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #3 - Mar 20th, 2007 at 11:33pm
 
Quote:
I believe these managers might have got some money from these service providers.


I agree entirely. I cannot believe that they are so thick as to to not know exactly what the situation is. I wonder how many high priced lunches, or trips to HQ in far off places or just plain "brown bags" stuffed with used notes these corrupt NHS managers have been given to make sure they put this scam in place.

Isn't there someone who reads this site who will be prepared to blow the whistle on this corruption?  Angry
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Tanllan
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #4 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 4:31pm
 
This change to 0844 is despicable.
What is the US equivalent? Probably toll-free with private medicine in the US...
Of course they want the custom and the UK's NHS does not.
No morals, just like the tv companies (and corporation).
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lompos
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #5 - Mar 21st, 2007 at 9:51pm
 
Were NEG and GPs the thin end of the wedge?
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bbb_uk
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #6 - Apr 28th, 2007 at 9:56am
 
Well I've been in communication with the hospital over this since March.  Below is my initial email concerning this:-

Quote:
I read in the 'This Is Lancashire' online website that very shortly you will be implementing a new 0844 contact number.  The news article website in question is below:

http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1261631.0.hospital_...

I'm outraged that a government body such as yourselves would utilise a 08x number (0844, 0845 or 0870, etc).  These numbers vary in cost from one provider to another.

For example, your new contact number (0844) will upto cost 5p/min from a BT Landline but other landline providers may charge more.  The cost of ringing an 0844 from public payphones are in excess of 10p/min and calling from a mobile can actually cost upto 35p/min from some mobile networks.

In addition to the extra cost associated with the 0844 number range (most importantly it costing upto 35p/min from some mobile networks) that these numbers from most networks are EXCLUDED from any inclusive minutes/tariffs that we may have.  The main reason for this is that the cost of these calls can cost significantly higher than a geographical (01 or 02) number.

I would like to point out that the Central Office of Information (COI) and Ofcom advise public bodies to avoid using these numbers due to the high costs that can be involved.  In fact Ofcom (The telephone regulator) advises that public bodies should also provide a geographical number alongside any 08x number.

Other issues associated with having an 08x number apart from the added cost is that these numbers may not be dialable from outside the UK and in fact as far as I'm aware most providers outside the UK will not allow calls to UK numbers beginning 0844 due to the high cost of carrying the call.

I believe as public body that you have a duty to provide access at more affordable rates rather than utilising an 08x number.

I'm fully aware that these numbers carry advantages that may not be available using existing geographical (01 or 02) numbers and due to this Ofcom will very shortly release a new number range beginning 03x.

The new 03x range will offer the same advantages as current 08x numbers but are charged at geographical rates (i.e. cheap) by ALL network providers and will be included in any inclusive minutes/price plans that we may have.

Due to the proposed introduction of the new 03x range shortly, Sir David Varney whom was asked by the Chancellor to review and recommend things concerning public authorities such as yourselves.  In Sir David Varney's recommendation (paragraph 7 - most notably 7.27), Sir David Varney recommends that public authorities implement the new 03x range (available shortly as I mentioned) so as not to add extra financial burden on us citizens.

For your information, below is the website address concerned which is published on the HM Treasury's website:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pre_budget_report/prebud_pbr06/other_docs/prebud_p...

Sir David Varney's recommendations/review is published in a .PDF (acrobat format) file and can be accessed directly from the link below (or via HM Treasury's website above):

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/53D/F2/pbr06_varney_review.pdf

For your confirmation on the excessive charges of 08x numbers (especially 0844/0871), please visit the following website link from Vodafone:-

http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_nfpb=true&...

I hope the above will convince you to hold off on your new 0844 number and take advantage of the new 03x cheaper range (for the public) as recommended by Ofcom and Sir David Varney's review of public services.

As mentioned, I'm outraged and surprised at your decision to introduce a more expensive number especially one that can cost upto 35p/min from some mobile networks despite the recommendation of COI, Ofcom and Sir David Varney's review and if you intend to continue with an 0844 number, I will right to the government and express my concerns at the use of such an expensive number.
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« Last Edit: Apr 28th, 2007 at 9:56am by bbb_uk »  
 
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bbb_uk
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #7 - Apr 28th, 2007 at 9:59am
 
Below was their reply:-

Quote:
Thank you for your helpful e-mail dated 20 March 2007 about our implementation of a special rate service number for our call centre at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I feel that it is important to point out that this is not a 0844 number but an 0845 number. 

In August of 2006, the Central Office of Communications' Better Practice Guidance, 2nd Edition was issued and states that 0844 and 0845 are appropriate tariffs.  This guidance also states that OFCOM will be reviewing the use of 0845 numbers in due course. 

The background to what we believe will enhance our services concerns the difficulties we have experienced with the platform that the Call Centre currently sits on.  You will appreciate that the Call Centre currently experiences very heavy periods of incoming traffic.  As the current platform lies solely on the BT network, any call that has not been answered within 6 minutes is automatically terminated.  Despite numerous attempts to resolve the issue it became clear that we needed to invest in a new system.

The new phone system allows the caller to be swiftly routed to the most appropriate member of the Call Centre team and their call will be dealt with more quickly and efficiently.  Therefore, the caller will spend less time on the phone than they did with the previous system.  As importantly, the system is very adaptable and as services develop so too will our call centre.

In addition, we will be able to monitor our calls more closely and evaluate operator performance and our standards.

The new number will be charged at a 'lo-call' call rate if using a landline. Calls from mobile phones will vary. The 'lo-call' rate applies across the UK. The actual rate, as with land lines, is dependent upon the provider's tariffs.  Callers who are on the BT Light User Scheme are charged at the same rate whether the call is 0845 or traditional land line. Patients will be informed of the potential difference in call rates when they receive written communications from our call centre.

We are advised that special rate service numbers are diallable from outside the UK, but it will depend on the Telecoms Company allowing access.
   
As you are aware, there are many public sector organisations, including GP Practices, that have switched to such systems in order to take advantages of the improved services it can offer to its users. 

Our telecommunication company has applied for the new 03 number. When this is available consideration will be given to its implementation.

In the meantime, we feel that the current changes will enable us to improve our service significantly.

I hope that this letter assures you of our best intentions and that we aim to improve our service to patients through these means.
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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #8 - Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:00am
 
Below was my response to their email in quoted in previous post:

Quote:
In my initial email to yourselves, I mentioned about 0844 because it was an 0844 that was mentioned in the article which I quoted a link to.

The COI guidelines states that 0845, etc should be avoided where possible and ideally that an 03x be used (although I'm aware 03x numbers aren't available just yet) however it also states that 0845 can be used but is obviously not what the COI recommends.

I note you mention 'lo-call' rate to describe 0845.  I feel I should point out that the term 'lo-call' is classed as misleading along with local/national rate by ASA and Ofcom.  I'm sure you understand that the term 'lo-call' implies that the cost is 'low' and because the cost of 08x numbers can be anywhere upto 35p/min then this is misleading and this is why ASA and Ofcom advise against such descriptions.

Also, the use of the word 'lo-call' is potentially misleading under Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and for your ease of reference, below is a link to a consultation response by Leicester City Council Trading Standards which states that as well as local/national rate being misleading it is also potentially misleading to refer them as 'lo-call':-

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/oftel_0845/responses/leicester_cc.pdf

I would also like to refer to the following link from Ofcom and under the heading, "misleading advertising" (point 20), it states that local/national (including lo-call) descriptions are basically misleading due to the different prices charged by all the networks.

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:yFuLjknEKBQJ:www.ofcom.org.uk/accessibility/r...

Also, the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) maintains that lo-call and local/national rate descriptions are misleading and that you should state the cost of calls from a BT landline (ie upto 4p/min for an 0845) and that other networks may charge more.  For more information please contact the ASA or see the following links:-

http://www.cap.org.uk/cap/advice_online/advice_online_database/Show+Entry.htm?ad...

http://www.cap.org.uk/cap/news_events/news/2005/Hanging+on+the+telephone+on+and+...


On a personal note, I fully appreciate that 08x numbers offer services that are either not possible on normal geographical numbers or really expensive to implement and I'm also aware that 08x numbers are used by other government departments but the main reason for this is that they generally operate two or more call centres and 08x numbers can route to any call centre most able to help the caller (ie the one with less of a queue).

Some other government departments are using 08x numbers to earn revenue and this includes surgeries, police stations, DVLA, etc.  In my correspondence with the DoH, they have said they have received numerous complaints concerning the cost of these calls to surgeries and how the surgery itself can sometimes earn money from each caller.  All this was the reason why Sir David Varney has recommended that once available, government departments should start using 03x number ranges which will cost no extra than geographical numbers and will be included in any inclusive call allowances unlike 08x numbers now.

Ofcom is of the opinion that where possible government departments should avoid using 08x numbers or if this isn't currently possible then they should provide a geographical number alongside their 08x number.  This is mainly for those calling from payphones and mobile networks and to ensure that they are fully accessible from outside the UK.

I ask that with regard to thinking ahead, you don't commit to a long-term minimum term contract for your 0845 number if, as discussed in the Sir Varney's report, that the government decide that 03x numbers should be used to ensure that those on low incomes don't pay over the odds to call a government department which is currently the case now and I do ask that you consider also releasing a geographical number alongside your 0845 as recommended by Ofcom but more importantly to ensure that those ringing from a network other than BT, don't get charged any extra than they normally would do for calling a geographical number and especially don't get charged upto 35p/min to call yourselves.

I do appreciate you taking the time to reply and thank you for your time.

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Re: Hospital call base overhaul
Reply #9 - Apr 28th, 2007 at 10:05am
 
... and below was their response to my email quoted in previous post:

Quote:
Thank you for your further response in relation to our new telephone number for the outpatient appointments service. 

I can assure you that we are not tied into a long term contract for the new 0845 number and will be following the implementation of the new proposed 03 numbers very closely. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the information that you have provided us with, which has proven invaluable to us as we look to improve our services further. All the points that that you have raised have been appreciated and will be considered in our future decision making process. 

Thank you once again for the time that you have taken in your correspondence with us.


In my conclusion at least they were prepared to go through the trouble of replying and looking into the facts I mentioned.

The problem is that until the new 03x range is available and hopefully doesn't involve paying to receive calls (seems unlikely though) then there is nothing much we can do - not even complaining to DoH, etc would help until 03x range is available and hopefully the cost to gov departments to receive calls on an 03x is low enough for it to be viable.
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