International accolades for our IUC service

19 March 2021

We are delighted to announce that our Integrated Urgent Care (IUC) team, which runs services such as 111 and out-of-hours, has achieved not one but two accolades from the European Contact Centre and Customer Services Awards (ECCCSA).European Contact Centre and Customer Services Awards

We won gold for the Responding in a Crisis: Supporting Colleagues award and silver for the Responding in a Crisis: Supporting Customers award. We were shortlisted in the final for two other awards – Responding in a Crisis: Best Partnership Solution, and Responding in a Crisis: Providing Leadership.

We beat off stiff competition from several hundred entrants across Europe from well-known organisations such as Tesco, EDF, HSBC, Microsoft, Bupa, BT, Telefonica, Legal and General, the NHS Business Services Authority, Shell and Virgin.

The awards stand testament to the extraordinary innovations our IUC team made to adapt our services to meet the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining the highest levels of patient support while ensuring that colleagues were well looked-after.

For patients, this ensured that sufficient numbers of trained personnel were available to manage a steep increase in demand and an ever-changing environment – despite 35% of the workforce absent due to shielding. More than 400 new and temporary members of staff were appointed, supported by colleagues from other areas of the business who volunteered and were trained to provide comfort to call patients. Combined, this meant that a high quality service was maintained despite immense external pressure.

For team members, the focus was in three key areas – wellbeing, safety and flexibility.

Colleagues were given support for physical and mental wellbeing. Where teams were expanded quickly, bigger facilities were acquired to ensure sufficient distancing, often in offices and spaces offered by neighbours who due to lockdown were not using their spaces. More than 50 technical and other innovations (which included working from home) made working from home a viable and safe option.

Kevin Brown, Integrated Urgent Care Director at Practice Plus Group and who led the response, commented: “These awards are the most prestigious in Europe for the industry and simply being a finalist is a huge testimony to everyone in every role who played any part in the response to the first wave of COVID-19. The efforts made by so many colleagues are recognised by the industry and across Europe. A gold award for our support to colleagues and a silver award for our patients is an awesome team achievement. I pay tribute to all of those who volunteered to help keep our patients safe, who took the relentless number of calls from anxious and worried patients, who recruited the vast numbers of additional people and who made the countless technical changes to make sure we achieved our very best and who identified some very poorly patients so they got help very quickly. Our people really make a difference.”

Ross Dowsett, Managing Director for Primary Care at Practice Plus Group said “The extraordinary challenges and pace of change faced by our IUC team was significant. At the top of the most important things we set out to achieve were to support our people and our patients and this recognition is well deserved by everyone. We have exceptional people who put their heart and soul into keeping patients safe, responding at any hour of the day or night to the evolving national position and the whole organisations support to this situation truly shows the commitment of all of our people.”

Jim Easton, Chief Executive at Practice Plus Group added: “These are great accolades to the work of the IUC team and those who have supported it across the business. I am delighted for everyone and my congratulations go out to everyone.”