National Healthcare Estates and Facilities Day: Telecommunications

To mark the very first National Healthcare Estates and Facilities Day, we are showcasing some of the many different roles in estates and facilities around our Trust.

Here we look at the Telecommunications department.

Based in a small office on the first floor of the main corridor, is a service that is central to the whole hospital.

Last year, they took a staggering 425,864 external calls and 211,030 internal calls.  A grand total of 636,894 calls!

The department has 15 staff who work different shifts around the clock, in order to be available to anyone who may call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The team take all calls & operate/respond to all emergency bleeps!

The operator targets to answer a minimum of 100 calls per hour, but some more experienced telephonists can take around 120 calls per hour.

They also provide an out of hours/twilight/Marie Curie nursing service where they receive calls from patients and relatives who require the service and are responsible for conveying the patient’s medical problems to the relevant district nurse. They deal with the blood bikers who distribute blood to the different sites that may need them too.  They provide an out-of-hours service for the ordering of taxis and make taxi firms aware when they are required in response to emergency situations.

They monitor all medical gas/intruder/personal attack alarms and instigate the relevant procedures too. Twice a year, the department also carries out a major incident test to ensure that staff get a turn to deal with this type of situation and can be prepared if it ever happens.

Telephone Supervisor, Laura Peel, who has worked in the department for 21 years and still loves her job, said: “This really is a lovely little unit and the font of all knowledge. It really is the hub of the hospital.

“It takes four to six months to train one of our operators. There is a long list of competencies to be achieved.  We are always contactable, even when not on duty, to help anyone on shift should they need help. We are always learning something new and between us all, we probably know all the people and departments a caller would need to contact.

“The only negative to the job is the growing number of prank and abusive calls. Unfortunately, these tend to get worse at the weekend.

“Callers do get frustrated when we are unable to give out information due to Patient Confidentiality and also when they are trying to contact someone whose phone is switched to voicemail.  There is little we can do in these situations other than remain professional. We sometimes have to report abusive calls to security.

“We do however get recognised for the vital role we play in the hospital and the team are inundated with Christmas presents each year from the consultants and other members of staff that we help throughout the year.”

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