NHS call centres triage 950,000 COVID-19 enquiries
Statistics published by NHS Digital show that nearly a million calls relating to COVID-19 have been triaged via the 999 emergency service and 111 non-emergency helpline since March 18th 2020.
As of the end of September, the total number of telephone enquiries triaged via the two numbers stood at 948,843, up by about 75,000 calls over the previous month.
The number is a count of calls, not of patients – so the same person may have called several times over the past six months – and is based on callers reporting possible symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they went on to test positive for the virus.
Importantly, the figures for emergency calls to 999 only count regions that triage calls via NHS Pathways, including the North East, South East Coast, South Central, West Midlands and the Isle of Wight.
That means the data excludes the North West, Yorkshire, East of England, East Midlands, London and the South West, and the total number of calls is likely to be well over a million since March.
During the same period, nearly 3.3 million online COVID-19 assessments have been carried out via 111 online. Again, this is a count of enquiries, not of people, and the total includes all instances of a user launching the COVID-19 assessment service.
The figures highlight the huge importance of telephone and online support during the pandemic, something MaxContact have been working with healthcare call centre operators in the UK to provide.
Secure, agile COVID-19 contact centres in the cloud
As well as servicing calls related to Coronavirus, contact centres must currently be agile enough to work within the restrictions imposed by the virus itself.
In recent weeks, MaxContact moved four large UK contact centres on to our true cloud platform, including two newly launched contact centres and two existing clients who now benefit from the massive scalability of cloud hosting.
Nearly 2,500 call agents across the four centres can now work from home, ensuring continuity of services in the event of a further national or local lockdown, and the work was completed in just 48 hours, with training materials provided to the new clients.
Cloud call centres benefit in a number of ways that take on additional meaning during the current situation:
- Cloud hosting enables call agents to work from home and comply with social distancing and precautionary self-isolation.
- Elastic scalability allows for immediate expansion in line with rising call volumes and enquiries relating to COVID-19.
- Connections are secure, allowing remote working without putting sensitive data and medical records at any increased risk.
As the official call volume nears a million – and is likely to be much higher in reality – this serves as a timely reminder of the vast number of enquiries that must be handled in relation to COVID-19.
MaxContact are proud to be able to support our clients through this challenging time, with true hosted contact centres that capitalise on the benefits of cloud platforms to help you serve your customers well, while also honouring your own obligations on social distancing and running a COVID-secure workplace for your call agents.