Doncaster hospital doubles phone lines to deal with public concerns over getting through

Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Picture: Matt McLennan
Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Picture: Matt McLennan

Bosses say they have now doubled the number of phone lines to Doncaster's hospitals trust as they try to get to grips with problems the public have had getting through.

Concerns were raised over the issue last year, and were 'escalated' to the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital Trust's board of directors after it emerged nearly 46 per cent of calls to the hospital were abandoned after being put on hold for a minute.

Simon Marsh, chief information officer at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals, has now told the Free Press the number of lines have been increased, with more staff now answering them.

He said: “Throughout the past number of months, we have seen increasing pressure on our hospital switchboard, with an average of around 75,000 calls per week.

“In order to address issues of call-handling capacity, we have implemented a number of schemes and projects, and most recently doubled the number of telephone lines into the trust, allowing patients to be able to directly dial the ward or service that they require. We also intend to appoint an additional switchboard operator. Once in post, this person will cover peak periods of Monday and Friday between 9am and 5pm, helping our patients get through to the right people, at the right time and without delay.”

They are part of a a £240,000 improvement plan aimed at sorting out the phones issue.

In December, officials were told that phone response time remained a concern.

Medical director Sewa Singh told the trust's quality and effectiveness committee that response times had remained a concern with regard to prioritising calls to switchboard from theatres, emergency department, resuscitation and the labour suite in the event of an emergency. Some delays were still being reported particularly at peak times.

The committee agreed to allow some time for the actions to take effect and for an update report to be provided at its next meeting.

An official report last year stated: "It was noted that the switchboard at DRI took over 4,000 calls per day with around a 46 per cent abandonment rate after being on hold for a minute."

The document, which went before governors, said there had been some challenges since implementation of a new system..