Telephone consultations comprise about 20% of all GP : patient contacts. This figure is rising. Nurses and allied clinical professionals make increasing use of the phone – in both community and hospital settings.
But the people who speak most on the phone with patients are the non-clinical staff – receptionists, secretaries, clerks and call-handlers.
Most will have received no telephone training specific to their roll. The training that HAS been on offer typically consists of checklists of advice. In particular, telephone conversations have, in the past, often not been taken as seriously as face-to-face contacts – with risks for patient and staff member alike.
We know that effective learner change in communication skills has been demonstrated only by training that takes a skills based approach (incorporating practice, observation, feedback and further rehearsal).