Netcall | Customer Story

Building for a digital future

A gamechanger – triage cuts time hanging on the line.


Project highlights


  • Migration to a cloud-based contact centre
  • Digitally empowered workforce
  • Business as usual with call handlers working from home
  • Triage team that filters incoming calls
  • Reduced abandon call rate to low single figures

A digital future


Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest acute hospital trusts. Seven hospitals provide integrated care to patients from Leeds, the wider region and in some cases from across the UK. It’s one of Europe’s largest teaching hospitals and is highly regarded in the world of clinical research.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals aims to be a leader shaping the digital future of the NHS and is investing to realise this. Two new hospitals are planned – a brand new adult hospital and a world class new Leeds Children’s Hospital, both on the site of Leeds General Infirmary. The Trust is already moving to digital solutions to help patients and staff, and is committed to keeping the patient experience at the heart of everything they do.


Digitally empowered workforce


Yet these visions are tempered with common sense. The Trust has to use its resources sensibly and invest in technology that will grow with them, according to their five year plan. The investments they make now need to give the best possible patient outcomes and support the future ‘Leeds Way’ of working.

Richard Moyes sees the exciting potential of digital technology. He is already thinking five years ahead and watching how technology is working in banks and airports.

The Trust’s General Manager of Outpatients, Richard Moyes, explains:

We want our workforce to be digitally empowered and to provide a good experience for staff and patients, using IT which just works.

At the Trust, the Patient Administration System is being updated to give all teams more flexibility to meet the needs of their patients and staff. Then the Trust wants to have more ways for patients to engage digitally with clinical services, whilst protecting those patients that have no access to digital technology.


Patient-centred changes


The Trust’s move to digital engagement started with appointments – in the Referral and Booking Service. Each year the Trust delivers around 1.3 million outpatient appointments, which will continue to grow post-COVID. The Outpatient department supports a multidisciplinary team of 600 colleagues that includes the Referral and Booking Service.

By 2020, with the impact of COVID-19, their contact centre solution was reaching capacity, so the Trust migrated to the latest cloud-based Liberty Converse solution from Netcall. Usefully, this freed up infrastructure to be used elsewhere.

woman's hand holding and using a mobile phone

A flexible work-from-anywhere future


The migration included moving from old fixed land lines and introducing soft phones, also supplied by Netcall. This positioned the booking service and its agents perfectly to face the Pandemic. Moyes explains:

It was brilliant for social distancing. We could maintain business as usual with our call handlers working from home, or from any location away from the main hospital site; resilience and business continuity are built in.
lady on phone sat at laptop

The new arrangement allows the agents to work from home with the correct governance in place. Activity on Liberty is shown on a large screen in the Business Support Managers’ office so that they can ensure efficiencies and can position colleagues to meet demand as it fluctuates throughout the day.


Patient queries soon sorted


The change is already making a difference to patients. They are not waiting so long on the lines, and fewer calls need to be passed to the medical teams. Moyes was keen to talk about call handling triage.

Historically each specialist area within the Referral and Booking Service had its own telephone number and DDI lines – Cardiology, Neurology, and so on.
Our call queuing wasn’t flexible. This meant that peak call loads for one department might cause patients to queue on the exchange, and other departments couldn’t offer their capacity to assist.

The new arrangement allows the agents to work from home with the correct governance in place. Activity on Liberty is shown on a large screen in the Business Support Managers’ office so that they can ensure efficiencies and can position colleagues to meet demand as it fluctuates throughout the day.

Liberty lets us have a Triage team that filters our incoming calls. We find that about 60% of our patients just want to amend a booking, so we action it there and then, and we only forward a call to specialist teams if it needs specific clinical expertise.

As Liberty has a call-back function, patients don’t have to hang on the line. They can have a call back when they reach the top of the queue. Moyes recalled one patient who had said:

It was absolutely amazing. I rang the Trust and I was queued on the cloud. They rang back when I was first in line and I only waited one minute, and the Trust sorted everything out straight away.

This is a huge improvement, as callers had been known to wait 20 minutes or so before. Another change is that GP’s calls can be routed straight through, which is very helpful.

Game changing new infrastructure

Calls have increased post-COVID with daily call volumes typically peaking at about 1,400 calls. Now patients are being referred into the hospital again and the backlog of demand is coming through, Liberty Converse allows the booking service to manage the flood of calls easier.

When there were a limited number of lines, patients had to wait, so some would just hang up in frustration. The call-abandon rate used to be as high as 30-40%, now that’s reduced to low single figures. Now that Liberty Converse is installed, the Trust has a much clearer picture of the real demand from patients.
switchboard operator bot
Moving to Converse has been a gamechanger for us. It’s been absolutely amazing.

Caring for staff too

The staff at Leeds are happy with Liberty Converse and have discovered many benefits. They have been able to identify training gaps and make the service more efficient, and being able to record calls is proving very useful.

Occasionally, there is a complaint from a patient, and the call recording feature on Converse means that the Trust can act to protect its staff and learn from incidents. Moyes says:
There was a case where a patient became verbally abusive and the agent went to the manager, who listened to the recording of the call and agreed that it wasn’t acceptable. We were able to ask the Patient Experience Team to write to that patient to explain that this behaviour is not tolerated. It is fantastic to be able to protect our colleagues this way and support them through difficulties.

Transformation and digital appointment management

The move towards digital engagement needs to embrace the Trust’s existing Patient Administration System infrastructure. Leeds is using Netcall’s Patient Hub to take its first steps towards managing patients’ appointments digitally. The Trust’s teams are working with Netcall to ensure that data flows both ways – to and from the administration system – to create an easy experience for patients and staff.

The Trust needs to use every appointment slot that’s available, and managing appointments and reminders digitally helps to achieve this. It also lets patients see their appointment details in real time. There are significant savings in postage and paper too.
Every step we make now contributes to how we will work in our new ‘Hospitals of the Future’. We are focusing on making our systems work well for our patients and our staff now, putting the foundations in place for our digital future.