top of page

A day in the life of a Switchboard Operative

My name is Ann Seward and I have worked initially for the Trust and now QEF for 19 years. I started as an Administration Assistant in Domestic Services but I have worked as a Switchboard Operator for the past 7 years.

The Switchboard is located within the QEF Admin Hub. This is an open plan office shared with the Estates and Facilities Admin Teams.

In an average day Switchboard staff take between 800 and 900 calls which must be answered and dealt with within a time frame in accordance with our KPIs. The chart below details the call volumes throughout the day.

There are a total of 4 shift operators who cover the service 24/7 and a further 3.5 day shift operators to ensure appropriate service provision in line with call volumes.

Our directory holds all contact information, extension numbers, mobile and bleep numbers. We rely heavily on data provision from wards and departments to keep this up to date.

Primarily I am the first point of contact for callers to the Trust as my role consists of receiving all external calls. Good customer service is therefore of the utmost importance. Switchboard staff also use Careflow to provide first point of contact information for relatives or agencies wishing to locate a patient.

The calls we receive can be from patients, visitors, emergency services, social workers and community staff to name just a few. People who call might be anxious or upset so as the switchboard operator, you may have to calm them down or reassure them. Calls can be very challenging/complicated as in some cases callers do not

know who they need to speak to. On such occasions I need to work with empathy and understanding to glean the correct information to ensure the caller reaches the correct destination.

The Switchboard team are also required to check that each emergency red phone is in full working order each month. These phones are our emergency back-up analogue lines and can be used to contact each ward/department if the digital lines fail. We also monitor and respond to Alarms for Fire, Personal Attack, Refrigeration Equipment and Medical Gasses.

In addition to the everyday calls the Switchboard team are responsible for contacting staff out of hours on-call and responding to internal and external emergency calls, for example cardiac arrests, fire, major incidents, etc. We receive approximately 5-10 emergency calls per week and the average response time is 3.4 seconds. We need to have the ability to remain calm under pressure in order to act efficiently, quickly and correctly to ensure that the right team(s) respond as soon as possible.

Switchboard staff also monitor and investigate the longest duration and the most expensive outgoing calls made from Trust phones on a daily basis.

We are required to work closely with the Trust’s site resilience team, senior management, surgical and medical team’s on-call to ensure all on-call rotas and information held is up to date and we need an extensive knowledge of the hospital site, departments and staff members to do this.

I’m often asked what the most challenging part of my job is and to me this is when I cannot connect a caller to a ward or department despite several attempts and trying various different numbers. In these circumstances I feel helpless and disappointed that the caller is experiencing poor customer service.

The most rewarding parts of my role are helping the callers achieve a successful outcome and knowing I have played my part in emergency situations.


bottom of page