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Health hotline down for hours.

Byline: Martin Shaw News Editor martin.shaw@examiner.co.uk

A NEW phone line for patients to ring to access community health services is still having problems.

Locala, which runs community NHS services in Kirklees, introduced a Single Point of Contact phone number to access its services.

When it was first launched last December it became "overwhelmed" and a health chief later admitted there was initial "chaos".

This week a health professional contacted the Examiner to say the lines were down for several hours on Wednesday night.

The health worker, who asked not to be named, said that a patient wanting district nurses found the line unobtainable at 5pm.

The patient tried several times before contacting their GP but staff from the practice also found the line down. A final call at 10pm gave the engaged tone.

The health worker said: "Usually when you ring the call is answered by an automated electronic voice but this time we were met with a whistling tone."

With a big shake-up of hospital services planned, the health worker said there would be a greater reliance on community health services and the system had to be able to cope with demand.

A spokesman for Locala Community Partnerships said: "We can confirm that it was extremely difficult to get through to our Single Point of Contact on Wednesday evening.

"This was due to a failure within the telecoms company supplying the lines and we had to wait until their problems were resolved before the lines were fully restored, at 10.30pm.

"As soon as we were aware the lines were down we put our 'business continuity plan' into effect which meant we contacted all our Integrated Community Care Teams and they made contact with their vulnerable and 'end of life' patients and their families across the whole of Kirklees to make sure they were supported if necessary.

"We also informed Kirkwood Hospice and the NHS 111 service.

"We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience resulting from this loss of service, which was completely beyond our control.

"The Single Point of Contact is meeting its overall monthly call answering target of 80% of calls answered within 90 seconds."

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 23, 2016
Words:362
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