Patient Access Centre

Last updated: 15 October 2012 

The journey

This programme’s purpose was to replace a hospital’s complex and inconsistent system for outpatient bookings with a call centre, using a single telephone number for all outpatient bookings. 

A review found that bookings were being made by over 300 staff with over 70 phone numbers in use across the trust. In some departments, it was only possible to book an appointment between certain times and on occasion there was nobody was available to cover bookings during annual leave. The lack of consistency across the trust meant that the patient experience was confusing and navigating between specialties was difficult. 

The team worked with stakeholders to interpret the review findings and to co-design a more streamlined booking system.  A new bookings process was then introduced alongside call centre technology and, after a trial period, all booking staff moved into one building.  The service has since been gradually refined to enable staff to work across specialities. 


Outpatient bookings are now handled by 30 full time employees.  Patient experience is much improved and savings of £1.2 million have been achieved. 

Patient setting

In-patient Out-patient        X Community based
Mental health Chronic illness Cross-systems


Clinical area

Staying healthy Maternity and newborn Children and young people Acute care
Planned care   X Mental health Long-term conditions End of life


Information, tools and techniques used

The creation of a Patient Access Centre was a Process Redesign in Administrative and Managerial services project (PRAM).  The project team drew on principles from a number of change tools, using a lean systems approach and being guided by principles from the DEMAIC (Define, Enthuse, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) model of change. 

To govern the overall project management, the team drew on principles from PRINCE 2. To embed the change, the team drew on Kurt Lewin’s ‘unfreeze, change and refreeze’ thinking.  The principles of Kubler Ross’ change curve were also instrumental in the team’s approach.  


The change took place within one acute hospital in Torbay, Devon. 


The project started in January 2010 and took approximately 18 months to complete. 

Contact details and further information

Nick Debney, Torbay Hospital. Email:




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