Coronavirus advice for call handling in surgeries

The direction of the advice and how surgeries are now responding to the Coronavirus pandemic is now set on a course. We thought it was time we would look at the way surgeries are so far responding to the outbreak and what we have been doing and in turn can advise all of you via this blog update.

Like a lot of organizations, isolation including limiting staff contact with both patients and each other is how all surgeries we have spoken with are handling this stage of the outbreak. We have to bear in mind that this stage may last weeks maybe months. Not days. So this time frame will need to be considered when deciding how your surgery will work over the coming months.

The advice in this document is provided to support the decisions made in how you wish to respond. The advice is from a babblevoice perspective - i.e. other considerations will be need to be made for using EMIS/SystmOne/Vision remotely.

Home working

Home working is the response all the surgeries we are speaking with are using. Both admin and medical staff can work like this. A lot of surgeries have so far cancelled face to face opting for telephone and video consultations. For all staff this can be done at home so that movement can be limited.

Take a phone home

By far the simplest solution is literally for people who will continue working is to take a phone home. The one thing which will differ from a home broadband is the surgery network will also power the phone.

So that a phone will work on a home broadband a power supply for the phone can be purchased such as this TP Link PoE adapter. This will work with all of the phones we promote, including Polycom VVX 101/201 and up, VTech VSP726A and Yealink phones.

The PoE injector plugs into the broadband router and your phone plugs into the injector. It will then work as if it were in your surgery.

This means

Basically, you can continue as if you were in the surgery.

This is our preferred option.

Call forward

We can forward calls as normal in a call rule. This can be a collection of mobiles if you wish. So if you were to create a call rule like

When a call comes in for surgeryreception then forward the call to 07123456789,0787654321,072354567678

Will distribute calls to all 3 numbers in turn.

We view this method as more short term - i.e. it is difficult to maintain a good workflow using calls forwarded to mobiles. However, it is a good option if you need to respond quickly before you manage to setup home offices for your staff.

Call lists and voicemail

Changing your call rules to send patients to either voicemail or a call list for call back is also a good option. Working in this way gets patients to leave enough details for a call back as and when surgery staff can respond by - it is a good way of spreading out load.


Most of the work we have helped surgeries with so far is uploading prompts to be announced to caller. Usually announcing the new ways the surgery will be working for in the foreseeable future. We have also created a stock library of sounds including an announcement with the NHS guidance.

Please get in touch if you require help setting this up for your surgery.


We are currently working on video. It is not currently finished - but please keep an eye on this blog as depending on the length of this disaster may mean we have it ready slightly down the road.


As normal, please get in touch if you need help with any of these options. We will publish further information as we have it.

The babblevoice team

By Nick Knight, Mar 15, 2020  

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