Thanks to a lot of hard work, more than 10,000 extra outpatient appointments were booked across United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust over the last financial year and the numbers keep on increasing. All of this additional activity highlights how important it is to have the right team of people in place to not only make all of these bookings, but also to be the friendly and helpful face that welcomes patients when they arrive at our hospitals.
Communications Officer Zoe Leahy spent a day with members of the bookings team and not only saw how valuable they are to their colleagues, but also the crucial role they play in making sure that everything runs smoothly and that our patients have the best possible experience from the moment they set foot inside our hospitals.
“Despite knowing that we saw 642,085 outpatients in 2018/2019, and also helping to make up some of those stats by bringing family members to appointments in this time, I had never fully appreciated just how amazing and extremely busy the reception teams are in our clinics. I am sure this is something that is replicated in many areas and departments throughout our hospitals, but this is the first time I have had the opportunity to sneak in behind the desk and see what it is like from the other side.
Not only are the bookings team often the first point of contact patients have when they visit our hospitals, but they have to be the fount of all knowledge. They need to be able to direct people to almost anywhere in the hospital, advise on car parking, waiting times, restaurant opening hours and at the same time book any follow up appointments, scans, investigations and anything else that is needed.
I started my day with Amy Clifton and Emma Knox on the reception desk on level one of the antenatal clinic at Lincoln County Hospital. They warned me it might be busy as it was an antenatal clinic for diabetic mums, but I had no idea just what they meant. I can’t even quite describe how they managed to be so calm and friendly while booking in so many expectant mums, many of whom were a bit nervous, as well as making sure that they left with the necessary follow-up appointments.
They were like swans – their professionalism and calmness was reassuring while from behind the desk I watched in awe as they updated patient notes, booked in extra scans, made sure they had the necessary blood test request forms, had urine sample pots, as well as a slot to see their consultant on the same day. Throw in a request for it to be after school drop off, but before lunch, taking into account bus timetables or if it can be on a specific day that partners and family members can also make and you get an idea of what they have to manage – talk about a juggling act.
Nothing was too much bother and they also had me watching their every move and asking lots of questions. They simply didn’t stop and were so lovely and admitted that meeting patients and getting to know them during their pregnancy journey is the best part of their job. They have even had families pop in to show off their new additions which they say is a huge privilege, and in my mind shows just how much the team is valued and appreciated by the patients they help.
I also popped down to the bookings office and sat with Georgia Rontree who has worked at the Trust for almost three years after starting as an apprentice straight from school. Her enthusiasm is infectious and clear for all to see and, like Amy and Emma, she loves the time she gets to spend with patients and their families as she is able to make a difference and make sure they have the best possible experience. Georgia spends a lot of her time working in the eye clinic, but also likes working on the main outpatients reception desk and other clinics.
With brilliant people like Amy, Emma and Georgia working so hard and living and breathing our values by putting patients at the centre of everything they do, showing respect, striving to be the best that they can be, and showing compassion by caring for patients and their loved ones in the same ways we’d want for our own friends and family, it really does make a difference.
It is great to hear what our patients think and currently more than 9 out of 10 of our patients say that they would recommend ULHT to their friends and family. That is an amazing achievement and is a real credit to all of our staff on the frontline as well those beavering away behind the scenes. It has to start somewhere and for many the start of their journey with ULHT begins with the booking of their first appointment or when they first visit one of our clinics. This can then be followed up with tests, x-rays, admission to a ward, further referrals, so it really is a team effort and is something that we should all be proud of.
One way patients can help is by making sure the Trust has the correct address and phone numbers. A quick chat at your next appointment or by calling the general appointment line on 01522 573200 will help us to keep in touch.
If you would like more information about possibly joining the bookings team please get in touch with the Talent Academy.