A HEALTH trust has welcomed the first anniversary of a call centre which was set up to provide easier access for the public.
The new call centre service, which is based in an office at Hartlepool Marina, is run by staff from the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
The service is designed to be a single point of access and has already handled an impressive workload.
Over the last year, staff have received around 350 phone calls a day. The total number of calls so far stands at more than 97,000, with more than 70,000 of these coming from patients and the rest from health professionals.
The service was set up so that patients right across the Hartlepool and Stockton area have just one number to ring when wanting to contact a district nurse, community specialist nurse or community matron.
The call handlers ensure patients and professionals receive the most appropriate service at the right time and a handling system helps calls to be spread evenly around the team.
Office manager Angie McMurray (pictured) said: “I remember our first day here – we had this large empty office and no one was sure quite how it was all going to work.
“Many staff who came here were very new to a lot of the work we do. Many had just worked in one of two of the trust’s department – here, we cover 14 different areas.
“It was obviously a learning curve for the majority of us but staff adapted very quickly.
“Even when the service just started we still got a good number of calls come in to the office and since then we average around 350 calls a day. Staff also have to sort through emails, faxes and other tasks that come through the office.
“I would like to thank the whole team for the huge efforts they have made over the last year to make it a success. They should be very proud of the hard work they have put in.”
Clinical director community services Linda Watson said: “The new system has meant our community teams have been able to spend more dedicated time with patients knowing that the call handlers will ensure all calls are dealt with appropriately, instead of being phoned directly themselves.
“It’s a really big improvement for patients and I’d like to thank all of the staff for their hard work and dedication.”