AN electronic answering service may greet telephone callers trying to get through to North Devon District Hospital from tomorrow (Thursday) especially during busy times. Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has a new system which means all calls to the hospita

AN electronic answering service may greet telephone callers trying to get through to North Devon District Hospital from tomorrow (Thursday) especially during busy times.Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has a new system which means all calls to the hospital switchboard not answered by a human operator within one minute will be fielded by the electronic system.The hospital receives some 2,000 calls each day and the Trust said it anticipated the answering service would only be needed during busy times.The call answering software is called Contact Portal, with callers asked to clearly say the name or department they wish to speak to and the call will be automatically connected.The system has been used by Trust staff since October and early indications have been positive."We introduced this system to ensure we offer a good service to people telephoning the hospital switchboard," said facilities manager Tricia Hawson."Monday mornings are the busiest times for reception staff and we appreciate that in the past some callers may have had to wait a long time to get a reply. "This system will support staff when the volume of calls exceeds their capacity to answer."The system is sophisticated and will recognise most words, but if diverted to the electronic service, callers are asked to speak clearly and minimise background noise.If they fail to connect electronically after two tries, the call will be diverted back to reception staff.