Charter Medical Centre, Brighton & Hove

Advanced Telephony


Difficulties in getting through to primary care services via telephone are a widely reported problem across the country. NHS England South East commissioned Redmoor Health to support PCNs and Practices in their region to optimise the use of their chosen telephony systems, for the benefit of their regional patient population. The PCNs and practices were all at different stages in their journey, with some having had products in place for a long time, compared to others who were only just getting set up.

Charter Medical Centre has nearly 31,000 registered patients and were understandably struggling with the volume of calls and the associated call wait times for their patients. They were having difficulty in breaking down and understanding their data and being able to visualise the pain points.

Redmoor Health were asked to help the PCNs and Practices understand how they can use their data to make relevant changes and improve their processes such as call flows, call queuing and call backs to support access and demand. This was done in a way that allowed practices within a PCN to align their processes, so that all patients have the same experience when accessing primary care.

Redmoor’s programme management and coordination included:

  • Development and delivery of webinars
  • 1:1 sessions with PCNs/practices
  • Training sessions on understanding data, and process mapping
  • Reviewed telephone data and call flows
  • ‘Cheat sheet’ development to help staff use systems effectively.


The Practice already knew they had some issues with how staff used the system, for example, some staff not setting the correct status when they were away from their desk, leading to calls being routed there when there was no one available to answer. It was also identified that there were several functions of their AT system that had been set up ineffectively, or not at all. Redmoor Health assisted further by helping the practice start analysing their call data to allow them to finesse the flow of calls and direct patients to the appropriate services first time.


Welcome messages

The practice wasn’t making the best use of its welcoming message and its length. Analysis of the data indicated that the initial welcome message on their call waiting was too long at over 4 minutes, and wasn’t making best used of the opportunity to redirect patients to other services at this stage. The NHSE Guidance suggests that telephone welcome messaging should be less than a minute, and so this message was changed to last only 51 seconds and now includes information to redirect requests for admin services to a more appropriate channel. This has both shortened patients’ time waiting in the queue, and redirected circa 500 admin requests per month, reducing the queue overall.

The ‘Phone Bar’

The Practice activated their ‘phone car’ functionality for Reception and Pharmacy, . This has reduced call length time on average, from 2:35 – 1:40 minutes.

Priority queuing and Callback system

The phone system has been optimised to offer priority queuing for high risk and vulnerable patients. Using the ‘Patient Notes’ option in the phone bar allows the telephone system to recognise calls from numbers linked to patients in a high risk/ vulnerable category and immediately jumps them to the top of the queue system, reducing the chances of the patient abandoning the call.

The callback functionality in the Practice’s telephone system was also optimised for more effective usage. Callback is offered after position 4 in the queue and, in the event that a patient misses their call back, a text message is sent to their phone saying that if they call the Practice back promptly, they will be added to the priority queue and will not have to queue for long again. This has been well used so far.

Cheat Sheets and Training

Redmoor also created a ‘cheat sheet’ for reception staff. These included quick wins and reminders to help them with their telephony system & configuration. For example, reminding staff members to change their availability throughout the day so they would not receive phone calls from patients when they were not at their desks. Therefore, patients were not kept waiting in the queue unnecessarily. Reception staff were also shown the data reports so they could better understand the system and the importance of making sure they use the functionality correctly. Staff have reported feeling more in the loop as a result, as well as empowered to understand not only how, but why they are working in this way.


By retraining staff, optimising telephone system functionality, changing messaging to redirect to other options and reducing messaging time overall, the Practice has reduced its average inbound call length, and effectively increasing capacity during busier times.

The practice is now planning to let these changes settle and then revisit the data to look at further improvements. They are currently part of the GPIP (General Practice Improvement Programme) to get support for other areas where they can improve the way they work.


“Working with Redmoor enabled us to better understand the telephony data available. We have been able to analyse this and use it to inform changes we have made as part of the General Practice Improvement Programme” – Nina Graham, Managing Partner.

“The phone bar feature and detailed study of the phones have been crucial in improving our call lengths and wait times. Our system is now much more streamlined, as a result of working with Redmoor” – Emily Lewis, Reception Manager.

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