Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust challenge phone abuse in real time

Tiger Fraud Detection Monitor Saves a Nurse’s Salary

Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust is using a Tiger Communications solution to challenge phone abuse in real time and cut costs by 80%. Meanwhile, the Tiger solution is being used to track down neglected extensions and deal with abusive calls and disciplinary matters, as well as being a day-to-day administrative tool.

Executive Summary Customer: Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust

Location: Seven major locations in North East England Number of

Employees: 12,000 plus

Challenge
  • Large, complex phone system
  • Culture of systematic phone abuse
  • Major relocation of staff to new offices
Solution
Results
  • Phone abuse virtually eliminated
  • Overseas calls bill reduced by around 80%
  • Existing, neglected extensions re-used, resulting in savings

 

Challenge

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest healthcare trusts in the UK, with seven major sites and an accident and emergency department which alone deals with over 75,000 patients every year.

Its 12,000-plus employees have more than 8,000 extensions at their disposal, and the number is increasing all the time.

A huge re-organisation of the network went live in January 2004, when all the switchboards were amalgamated. “Ours is a uniquely complex system,” says Clare Stewart, Switchboard Supervisor and Call Log Administrator for the Trust.

Her job became increasingly demanding when the Trust achieved Foundation status in 2006.

“We were already trying to save money, Now the Trust had to actually make a profit.”

The network already had a Tiger solution installed, and it was whilst running regular weekly reports that Stewart noticed an alarmingly high expenditure on foreign calls – around £1,200 per week – and also a suspiciously high use of 09 numbers, particularly at weekends.

She got to work challenging regular users of the extensions in question, but as she points out: “People were just passing by, and if an office was empty, they’d take advantage.” Clearly, if Stewart was going to catch phone abuse in the act, she was going to need something much quicker than a weekly call logging report.

Solution

Stewart discussed the problem with her Tiger Communications account manager, who suggested adding the Fraud Detection Monitor to the overall Tiger service.

The Monitor can be configured to report whatever form of suspicious activity the supervisor is concerned about, from call length and destination to hacking and other security breaches, and alert them via e-mail, text, pager or on the screen of their PC.

Results

“The Tiger Fraud Detection Monitor has been absolutely fundamental in slashing our costs,” says Stewart. Although there is still a tiny incidence of abuse, it is negligible compared to before the installation.

By mid-March 2009, “International calls cost us just £43 for the entire Trust,” says Stewart.

“By being alerted instantly, I can confront staff abusing the phone system. It’s a highly effective way to stop the culture of systemic abuse that we had before. Plus, we can get people’s names and bill them for the calls they make.”

 

The savings made are highly significant to the service the hospitals provide to their patients, as Stewart is quick to point out. “£1,200 a week on international calls is about the same cost as a hospital bed for the same period. It’s a nurse’s monthly salary.

“With Tiger Fraud Detection Monitor I tracked down an employee who racked up £48 in one day alone. That’s what it costs to employ a hospital porter for a day.”

 

Meanwhile, she has been using the Tiger solution to make additional savings by tracking down extensions that have been simply abandoned when employees move offices as part of an ongoing reorganisation.

“On just one site in January, I found 264 extensions that weren’t being used, using Tiger’s extension usage report. That’s 264 new lines we then didn’t have to buy in for new buildings, because we could use these existing, abandoned lines.”

As well as chasing up day-to-day enquiries, some additional uses of the full system include:
  • Investigating abusive calls to staff
  • Logging calls for use in disciplinary hearings
  • Tracing lost mobiles
  • Defence against litigation

Despite having no technical background, Stewart has had few problems using the system, thanks in part, she says, to the excellent working relationship she has with Tiger Communications.

“I can simply explain an issue in my own terms, and the team will advise me.”

 

Another aspect of customer service that has made the deployment a success is twice-yearly user forums where “we can meet up with other clients and compare notes. And even criticise Tiger, if we feel the need!

“That’s a real point of difference with other providers. We go through the issues and every one of them is addressed. It’s a fantastic idea.”

 

Next Steps

The Trust is in the midst of a massive building replacement and upgrade scheme as old hospitals are replaced. As a result, it is now looking into upgrading its Tiger system to provide speedier and more accessible reporting to an ever-expanding communications network.

Find out how our Tiger solutions can save your organisation money, contact us here.

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