Citizens Advice Scotland has chosen Avaya to provide the technology behind the ‘Patient Advice & Support Service’ (PASS), a new 0800 helpline service for anyone who wants to give feedback, or raise comments, concerns or complaints about NHS treatment in Scotland.

PASS provides critical advice and support to citizens in all parts of Scotland, including the Highlands and Islands where connection speeds can be a challenge, and is administered by a mix of paid and volunteer advisers across the country.

Citizens Advice said it had needed a system that could route calls to and from remote areas, seeking capacity in times of high demand, while still being intuitive and easy to use. For a service such as this, a large, centralised call centre was expensive and impractical, it said, since it would not be able to effectively scale in accordance with inbound demand.

The solution delivered with Avaya has allowed the organisation to offer an efficient and distributed service, scaled to the organisation’s needs. This is all while delivering against its NHS customer service level agreement, which aims to have over 90% of calls answered within 30 seconds.

The scalability of the solution is already being proven, said the supplier in a statement, as the PASS is handling more comments than originally predicted; over 300 calls per month, which is three times the expected volume.

As a result of the upgrade, anyone seeking advice or support about NHS feedback can contact an adviser using the phone, email or web chat through the online portal, where they can simply click to call an adviser.

The service is available at every Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland, with patient advisers providing support to generalist advisers. The service can be accessed face to face in a bureau, or via the helpline which is answered by Patient Advisers.

Anne Lavery, chief operating officer for Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “The solution provided by Avaya allows the Citizens Advice network in Scotland to respond to provide a multi-channel offer which is responsive to client demands while maximising productivity, delivering real value for money.

“The 0800 number is an essential service for anyone who is not happy with the treatment they’ve received from the NHS in Scotland and needs free, confidential, and independent advice. Since we introduced Avaya IP office, the uptake to the service has been remarkable.

“The distributed telephony network allows a group of advisers in diverse communities across Scotland to work in a virtual team to provide a blend of face-to-face, telephone based and online advice. This uses the skills of the advisers nationally, without undermining local delivery, and removes the requirement for a large and expensive centralised call centre.”

Gerry Paton, territory account manager for Scotland at Avaya, said: “Together, Citizens Advice Scotland and NHS Scotland are transforming their operations by putting patient experience at the heart of their digital strategy.

“We are proud to have been able to design and deliver solutions for them that map to their specific needs and outcomes. CAS is now able to deliver an adaptable service which is already having a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of Scottish citizens.”

Patient adviser, Sarah Walker, from East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “I have found the Avaya solution to be an easy, efficient and user friendly system. The visual elements such as the screen layout and the icons are very clear and self-explanatory so little training is required for potential users.

“The system is also responsive and consistent as you can see when calls are being received and the how long the current caller is waiting. You can also communicate with other users and supervisors on the helpline which is beneficial and useful in providing additional support.”