"Unable to get through to Tilgate ward"

About: East Surrey Hospital / General medicine

(as a relative),

Trying to contact Tilgate Ward by phone to request that if my mother, when being discharged, if they could advise me so that I can be there to arrange for her care.

I spent some three hours off and on trying to get through. In the end I have just given up. Surely there could be just someone there - a volunteer - to answer the phone even if its to either take a message or a number to call back on, it would save so much frustration on all sides?

In taking your request I did not want to come to the hospital as I, like a lot of people, arm suffering with flu symptoms and did not want to spread it around to others.

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Response from Eloise Clarke, Communications Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear 'PLM'

I can understand your frustration. I am not sure why you have experienced this as it is not usually a problem to reach the wards. Please can you contact me to give me your telephone number and I will ask the ward manager or matron to call you back asap. Apologies about this and I will try to establish what the problem is so others don't have the same experience.

eloise.clarke@sash.nhs.uk or 01737 768511 ext 6844.



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Response from Philip Stone, Medical Records Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear PLM,

Thank you for contacting us via Patient Opinion and for our subsequent email conversation. As the Manager responsible for telephony here at the hospital I share your concern with regard to answering times. As discussed in our emails our telephone exchange has been configured to allow queuing from external callers to a busy extension. The advantage of this is that callers are placed in a queue and then answered in turn as the extension becomes free. This saves time and the need to keep redialling when an extension is busy. The disadvantage of this system is that whilst in the queue you will be listening to ringing tone unaware that you are in a queue. This on occasion leads to the impression that a phone is not being answered when in fact it is actually busy dealing with a previous caller.

We are currently investigating the feasibility of introducing call queue messaging technology to our current systems. This will give us the ability to give comfort messages that will indicate your position within any queue and reassure callers that calls are being answered.

As soon as I have any additional information I will post a further update.

Best Regards



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Response from Philip Stone, Medical Records Manager, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust We have made a change

Dear PLM,

Further to my previous response, I am pleased to be able to tell you that we have made several changes on Tilgate ward to improve our telephone service. We have introduced a new direct dial number (01737 284605) to bypass the switchboard and speed up direct access to the ward. We have introduced new technology to greet callers and if they are in a queue to keep them informed of their position within that queue. At the same time I am working with the Deputy Chief Nurse to look at ways of further reducing our answer times and improving service.

The changes made on Tilgate ward and the technology introduced will be rolled out to our other wards over the next few weeks.

Thank you for highlighting this issue and I hope the changes introduced will help in the future.

Best Regards


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