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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New hospital Contact Centre offers improved service for patients

New hospital Contact Centre offers improved service for patients

Posted on Wednesday 18th March 2015

The new Contact Centre

A new centralised Contact Centre for North Cumbria University Hospitals’ outpatient appointments has opened, offering an improved service for patients attending the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

The Contact Centre houses a centralised booking team, on hand to respond to the needs of patients who are referred to the Trust from a variety of sources. Providing the service in one centre will enable a telephone answering service to be staffed for longer hours than previously, from 8.00am until 6.30pm Monday to Friday, facilitating better patient contact.

Under the old system, when staff were based in different locations across both hospital sites, some patients experienced difficulties reaching a member of staff to change an outpatients appointment or ask a question about their appointment. The new centralised service provides one phone number for patients to call – 0344 776 0003. This is a local rate number from landlines, wherever you are in the UK. There will be a queuing system during busy periods, with staff being aware of how many calls are waiting. The number of calls the Trust is receiving can also be monitored in order to ensure that the correct staffing numbers are in place to provide an efficient service to patients.

The new centre, based in office accommodation on Port Road, Carlisle adjacent to the Cumberland Infirmary, will also allow the Trust to closely monitor and improve the 18 week referral to treatment (RTT) national standard which says that patients should wait no longer than 18 weeks from initial referral to start of their treatment. The Trust has been working with the national RTT Intensive Support Team to look at ensuring our outpatients clinics and inpatient beds reflect the needs of the local population across both hospitals.

The centre will also benefit staff who will all work together as one team for the first time, providing them with more support and opportunities to gain expertise in new areas. Staff will remain on the main reception desks in both hospitals in order to assist patients when they come into hospital for their appointment.

Helen Ray, executive chief operating officer at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, said: “We are delighted to open a Contact Centre that will ensure that we have the right staff with the right skills available to meet the needs of our patients.

“Advances in technology are providing new ways of working and the Contact Centre will allow us to introduce new and more efficient systems which will benefit both our staff and our patients."