Swine flu tackled by call centre staff

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Call centre staff at 19 sites across the UK have stepped up to the challenge of manning the The National Pandemic Flu Service or swine flu hotline, launched last week.

In a move that has been criticised by some doctors but applauded by the general public, staff who usually manage non-medical accounts have undergone intensive training to provide an easily accessible service to potential flu sufferers in England.

Offering a dedicated telephone based service not only relieves massive pressure on local GP services, but it allows sufferers to obtain medication while effectively quarantining themselves at home and preventing the spread of the illness.

Call centre staff talking to The Times have appreciated the importance of their role, saying “It’s a big responsibility, isn’t it? You could be talking to people with serious illnesses.” Approaching the daunting challenge of millions of phone calls with complete dedication, one advisor said ‘It’s a real buzz when you’re helping people.”

While concern over the medical knowledge of staff has been raised by some doctors, call centre staff are backed up by the National Pandemic Flu Service clinical on-call desk for any urgent issues. The NHS also says that ‘Doctors from the Royal College of GPs will have a special liaison role with each of these call centres.’ Staff are not trained or expected to advise on any other medical issues.

In the current economic climate an outbreak of flu may cripple workforces and even push companies already under strain out of business. It’s not often that call centres have such a high profile opportunity to support our country and our economy, so we’d like to take this opportunity to give them a show of support.

The helpline number at the time of writing is 0800 1 513 100.

Catch it. Bin it. Kill it.

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