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January 15, 2024

‘Integral to patient care’: How bookings teams keep services running during winter and strikes

  • Bolton’s booking teams help reschedules thousands of patient appointments
  • Around 500 phone calls to patients every day during strike action to provide vital support
  • Focus on tackling backlogs and meeting demand as Bolton recovers from strikes

As Bolton recovers from the latest round of industrial action, a small team are working behind the scenes to reschedule thousands of appointments and provide vital support to patients.

Strikes have a significant impact on the running of day-to-day services as Bolton NHS Foundation Trust puts plans in place to focus on urgent and emergency care to prioritise the sickest patients.

During the most recent junior doctor strikes between January 2 and January 9 2024, more than 600 appointments needed to be rescheduled, taking the overall figure since strikes began to nearly 4,000 appointments.

The Trust’s Bookings team support patient queries with an average of 500 phone calls per day throughout the walkouts.

Jayne Parkes, Senior Manager for Centralised Clerical Services at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Our patients understandably have lots of questions about what rescheduling means for their care and treatment and when they are next likely to be seen.

“It’s really important that we are there to support them and manage their expectations with effective communication every step of the way, and most importantly letting them know what happens next.

“We’re often out of sight when patients come in to visit, but we’re a really important function in their care journey by making sure our services continue to run smoothly and that patients are booked in as soon as possible, based on their clinical priority.

“Our job over the next few weeks and months is to work through the backlog created by the strikes and ensuring our patients have all of the important information they need.

Robust plans are in place to ensure patients are well informed about any changes to their appointment as early as possible, through both phone calls and digital messages, with approximately 1,400 texts and emails sent before the January strikes.

Now the latest round of industrial action has finished, clerical teams are working closely with clinicians to begin the task of finding surgery and appointment slots for patients, which may involve creating additional clinics at short notice and rearranging theatre lists to maximize capacity and ensure people are seen as quickly as possible.

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