No two days on the helpline are the same. As well as talking things through with our callers and answering queries sent via our website and by email, our work includes attending public events and going to meetings with other organisations, in order to meet patients face-to-face, and to keep up with best practice. We never know what the next call or enquiry will be about and we provide support on a whole range of complex and diverse issues.  


Our service begins at 9:30am, however we start work at 9am to give us time to check the helpline email inbox and respond to email we've received overnight. During this period we respond to incoming emails and ready ourselves for calls.

9.30am - taking complicated calls

The first telephone call arrives shortly after the helpline opens at 9.30am and then there is a fairly constant stream of enquiries that cover everything from concerns about waiting times for surgery, to advice on how to make a complaint about poor care. The healthcare sector is huge and we learn something new every day – but we also believe that, whatever the call is about, we’ll be able to deal with it during the call or after further research.

12.30pm - getting out and about

We also get involved in outreach activities to meet people like you. A member of our helpline team headed down to Whipps Cross Hospital, along with our Communications and Digital Officer. It was a great opportunity to speak to people about their experiences of using health and social care. We also listened to people who told us about the problems that their loved ones, friends, or a neighbour was having. We were able to provide information about our helpline service, so that they can pass it on to their friends and families.


One of our team speaks to a lady who was seeking advice about raising her concerns to the hospital that her mother, who has dementia, had acquired bruises on her arms and legs while in hospital. We advised the caller that she should report the matter with the safeguarding team at the hospital and raise her concerns with the senior doctor responsible for her mother’s care.

Next we answer the phone to a gentleman who has been waiting five months to see an ear, nose & throat (ENT) specialist at a hospital. We advised the caller about the maximum waiting times of 18 weeks for non-urgent referrals and advised him to speak to the hospital or his Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to ask to be referred elsewhere where he may be seen sooner.

4pm - reading our email and letter enquiries 

Where there's a brief pause in the calls we use this to respond to emails that have arrived since the helpline opened. Our target time for responding to emails is two working days. We respond to questions about how a patient may see their medical records, how to make a complaint about a dental practice, and how to find a GP. As there is a great deal of information on our website and in our downloadable advice leaflets, we advise the enquirers to read them and contact us again if they require more information.


The helpline service closes and the team review and respond to incoming emails and record any policy issues that may require wider involvement or action by our policy team.


The day ends and we discuss any unusual or particularly difficult or interesting calls that may require further action.