SGS United Kingdom Ltd and NHS Direct Celebrate Landmark Certification Success23rd July 2009
SGS has helped NHS Direct achieve certification to Customer Contact Association (CCA) Global Standard across its 35 contact centres in England, making it the largest multi-site accreditation ever undertaken by CCA.
Over 3,500 people work for the company, with a front line staff of 2,000 dealing with phone, web and online enquiries on any aspect of health information. The staff fields up to 25,000 calls a day (that's over 9 million calls a year) and the website receives around 21 million visits a year.
As part of the process, 50 members of staff were deployed as 'CCA Champions' to ensure that NHS Direct had consistent standards across the country.
Patrick Clarke, Head of Programme Management Office and Risk for NHS Direct, who led the programme said, "We went for the standard because the Varney Report, published in 2006 by the Cabinet Office, recommended improving public sector contact centre performance. We were chosen, along with four other contact centres, for certification. Also we were founder members of the CCA ten years ago and we continue to have an active seat on the council."
CCA Global Standard is the only industry standard that supports the core standards for telephone services set by the Department of Health. Eventually, telephone services that do not attain this accreditation will not be able to provide services to the NHS.
NHS Direct started work towards the standard 22 months ago and 18 months ago chose SGS in a tender bid to help the company prepare for assessment.
"SGS won the tender because they had done their homework on the Varney Report, 'Service transformation a better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for taxpayers', and they promised and delivered the same audit team to cover all 35 locations across the UK. They really got to understand the culture of the organisation," says Clarke.
"The two main benefits of the standard are that it gives us an operational framework or blueprint for operating the business. We could switch a nurse advisor from say Newcastle into a London centre and they would be comfortable with the operating environment at that site, thus providing a consistent and safe service for our patients.
In addition, we are in a major strategic development programme to further enhance the national service to the patient, which with the successful certification of the CCA Global Standard will provide a good basis for effective change and continuous improvement."
SGS assessors, Bob Mandy and Catherine Botting said, "The assessment team were impressed with the high standards of performance achieved across the network together with the dedication and enthusiasm of all staff interviewed. The onsite assessment was the culmination of nearly two years in preparation by NHS Direct and this was clearly demonstrated by the staff's understanding and commitment to the principles of the standard. It was also apparent that where the assessment team saw opportunities for improvement within the standard framework, NHS Direct has quickly developed an action plan to continuously improve."
Patrick Clarke adds, "This was a huge achievement for us after nearly two years of challenging but rewarding work. Not only are we the largest multi-site accreditation, but we are also the only NHS organisation to be accredited, both of which are massive achievements which could not have been met without the dedication of our CCA champions and support from senior management."
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