Every day is a learning day

Phone canva 14/02/19

One of Swindon's doctors surgery groups has had problems with a new appointments system, I understand for nearly six months, and their patients are bringing additional work to the local hospital walk-in emergency provision because they are unable to get through on the phone.

I am aware, from the comments made by one of the GP leaders that they wish to encourage "on-line" and self-service appointment making.

So what do I take from this?

I'm very happy that we have and intend to maintain a Crime and Communication Centre in Wiltshire, based in Devizes, offering a telephone based service for the people of Swindon and Wiltshire - 24/7.  The performance has fallen below the acceptable level in the past but resources have been put in to maintain the service level.

Over the past few years there has been a lot of pressure to reduce costs - one of which was to move to a regional call answering service.  This will not happen in Wiltshire - it is not on the agenda - it is not what the people of Swindon and Wiltshire want from the service they fund.

The second solution offered is to move "on-line." Here, I want to be really clear about two things:

1.    I believe that "on-line" reporting is a facility that is needed and should be developed.

2.    However, this will not be done in a way which in anyway is forced on the public.  Whilst we may encourage a change to this cyber solution we must always recognise that there will be people, and a great number of them, who want to speak on the phone and cannot deal with the unfamiliar process of "on-line" whilst dealing with a crisis.

The change will come in time - to force it by the withdrawal of a service is the wrong way though.  Let's plan for the withering of the phone service, not the removal.


Published on 14 February 2019.