2.6.1 Service providers
Some of the major providers are listed below:
- Virgin Media
- Talk Talk
All provide good service at competitive rates and offer 0845 or other numbers at or slightly above national call charges (not premium) for patients dialling the surgery. The practice of free calls by dialling 0800 had been long discontinued.
Also, these providers had prevented the surgeries by direct dialling the land line numbers using the argument that patients may get busy tones and not able to access the surgery quickly. Now-a-days most have packages for calling these numbers free 24/7; of course they pay a small upfront charges to the provider. Some providers do offer unlimited calls to 0845 and other numbers for a small monthly charge.
2.6.2 Telephone answering and etiquettes
The way a receptionist’s talks on the phone, the tone, expressions etc. are of paramount importance and should be checked by the senior receptionists and the Practice Manager before the person is allowed to take calls from the patients. It is crucial during induction training this aspect is focused first as the person is the first contact and wrong tone or comments may infuriate the patient with consequential complaints. Table below lists some of the telephone responses and this can be expanded to suit individual surgery needs. This list should also be in the reception area for easy reference.
The receptionists should practice the responses for each question, as prepared by the Practice Manager, so that it comes out very fluent and quite confident. This simple exercise would educate the receptionists about the rules, procedures and telephone etiquettes and make them deal with the patients and public much better.
2.6.3 Surgery telephone Numbers
The service providers do give a number of options for patients to select the service they need form the surgery by selection of 1-9 and 0 for the operator. It is prudent to restrict the calls during busy surgery hours to those seeking appointments only or from Hospitals.
2.6.4 Training Module
This gives an outline of system used in earlier years for an extremely busy inner city surgery. This format was used for in-house training purposes and should be modified to suit present day situations.
Swine Flu Incident Room in PCT.
When a large incidence of swine flu occurs then patients are likely to call the incident room for advice regarding swine flu. Surgeries should give the contact telephone numbers of PCT to patients as this is solely for doctors and staff to call.
PCT would normally issue procedures for all surgeries to follow when such an outbreak occurs.