Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Taking phonership: an initiative to improve telephone access for patients receiving services at a dental hospital in the UK
  1. Scott Deacon1,
  2. Emma Dodd2,
  3. David Wynne-Jones3
  1. 1 South West Cleft Service, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Transformation Team, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 Division of Surgery, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Scott Deacon, South West Cleft Service, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol BS1 3NU, UK; scott.deacon{at}


Background At Bristol Dental Hospital, we received almost 5000 calls per week, and we were not answering over 60% of these. This led to numerous informal complaints from frustrated patients and families to clinicians and administrative staff, reducing patient experience and affecting staff morale.

Method We set up a Task and Finish group with clinical and managerial leadership using staff engagement and a clear message to improve our performance. We agreed metrics and feedback to administrative teams about weekly performance.

Results Calls received fell from nearly 5000 calls per week to under 3000. Calls answered when available; we term ‘when available’ to indicate during standard operating hours when the line is not already occupied. During core hours call answering improved significantly from around 35% to over 75%. Complaints have dropped significantly in the same time period.

Reflections Effective leadership with staff engagement has improved telephony at a dental hospital in the UK significantly. This initiative has been adopted by other areas in the Trust and helped inform good practice around the Trust.

  • patient experience
  • organisational effectiveness
  • multi-professional
  • clinical leadership

Statistics from


  • Contributors SD led the Task and Finish group for the project that planned the project. SD and DW-J developed the brand and concept. All authors worked jointly on engagement and communicating with staff groups. DW-J and ED managed the data collection, analysis and presentation. SD wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. DW-J and ED proposed revisions to the draft of the manuscript. SD and ED revised the final draft. All authors are all guarantors of the overall content

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.