New communication system will make it easier to contact GP practices

A new communication system for GP practices in north Leeds will soon make it easier for people to contact their surgeries.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of Calibre Care Partners (GP Federation) has appointed Freedom Communications, a GCI Company, and Redcentric to provide an integrated digital system on behalf of around 20 practices.

The new unified communications system includes a number of improvements for patients compared with traditional phone lines. During busy periods, callers will be able to join a queue rather than have to keep redialling to get through. They will be able to choose from different options to get straight through to the most appropriate team or service, and with the ability for practices to share call handling – for example, during especially busy periods or for urgent or specialist appointments – patients should find it easier and quicker to speak to the right people.

For GP practices, as well as enabling staff to use it on any device and at any location, the new system will give them access to a range of information about call patterns that they can use to improve and fine tune call handling and staffing levels.

Importantly, because practices will be able to configure the system themselves, they’ll be able to respond more quickly to changing demands and patient feedback.

Dr Simon Ottman, Director of Calibre Care Partners and local GP, said: “We want to make sure that Leeds residents receive the best healthcare possible. We know that people sometimes find it difficult to contact their surgery and this can impact other health services, but the new system should help to improve the overall patient experience and help our hardworking practice staff to provide a more efficient and responsive telephone service.”

Dominic Hughes, Strategic Channel Partner Director for Freedom Communications – a GCI Company – said: “Working with NHS Leeds CCG and our premium business partner Redcentric has enabled us to deliver a cost-effective, leading-edge service to GP practices in north Leeds, securely and with minimum disruption to their vital day-to-day business. We look forward to our partnership providing benefits to all parties in the future.”

Simon Michie, Chief Technical Officer from Redcentric, said: “We are delighted that Redcentric has been selected as the provider to NHS Leeds CCG. Our hosted unified communications solution – already secure, compliant and fully proven in the healthcare sector – will allow GP practices in north Leeds to migrate their telephony to the cloud without disrupting patient communications. More importantly, it will also help deliver an enhanced patient contact experience and boost the efficiency and efficacy of call handling by practices in the region.”

The new unified communications system is the latest development planned by NHS Leeds CCG to improve access to primary care for local patients. Other schemes currently being rolled out to improve access include extended opening hours and a system to allow patients to consult with their GP practice online and via video facilities.