At HUC, we are proud of our inclusive environment and the support we provide for our colleagues. Today, Alice Warner tells us about her special journey from NHS 111 Service Advisor to Health Advisor.

“I joined HUC in 2019 as a Service Advisor, partly because of my visual impairment condition and I wasn’t sure how much I could do. But once I was on the job, I wanted to challenge myself and completed the NHS Pathways training to be a Health Advisor,” says Alice Warner, who works in our Bedford contact centre.

All new starters in the organisation – NHS 111 Health Advisors (non-clinical Call Handlers) and Clinical Advisors (nurses and paramedics) – must undergo rigorous training when they first join HUC, to familiarise themselves with the NHS Pathways software, which supports the process for providing patient care on the phone.

There are also Service Advisors supporting NHS 111, who do not have to go through the full NHS Pathways training, and whose role is fielding calls, making sure they go to the right professional. These calls may either be from a Healthcare Professional calling to speak to a GP for clinical advice, or a carer or social worker.

For Alice, working as a Service Advisor was the perfect way to ease herself into working in an NHS 111 contact centre. Once settled in, she challenged herself to go a step further and train as a Health Advisor who take the initial call from patients and take them through the NHS Pathways assessment.

“Once I joined, I received a lot of support from everyone, especially my lead trainer Suzana Jameel, who arranged one-to-one training for me that allowed me to go through everything at my own pace. Everyone is so friendly and eager to help one another, and I was always encouraged to ask questions at any time, if I was unsure of anything,” she explains.

While there was a bit of nervousness initially, Alice was touched by the working environment. “I was particularly impressed by the warmth and openness shown by all members of staff and that was one of my key reasons for joining HUC,” she says.

For Alice, her training was not a regular one. There is a special software, which displays text in a highly magnified form, making it legible for someone with visual impairment.

She adapted quickly to the role and the systems put in place to support her. “The training was impressive and also the willingness shown to ensure that everything was accessible to everyone which was especially important to me because of my visual impairment,” she says.

And that’s not just a one-off case. At HUC, we strongly believe in supporting our colleagues. As part of the training team, Suzana and her colleagues have supported employees who were visually impaired, another with a disability and a wheelchair user. “We are not only supporting our patient community, but our colleagues as well,” Suzana says when we ask her to tell us about how she works.

And Alice is thoroughly enjoying working for NHS 111. “Patience, resilience and excellent communication skills are all key factors needed for this job,” Alice continues, adding, “This is because we receive calls from patients in all kinds of situations, and unfortunately some those are potentially life-threatening, so we must remain calm at all times, explain things clearly and always listen to everything that’s being said carefully.”

What Alice really likes about HUC is the fact that there is always room for progression for the people who wish to develop their career further within the organisation.

She also would recommend this job to anyone looking for variety and a new challenge. “As Health Advisors, we never know what to expect which means that we encounter something new every day. Also, the job can be challenging at times which means that we’re always looking for new ways to improve our communication and interpersonal skills,” she says.

“The extent of which the NHS 111 service can help people is still not common knowledge within some groups, including the elderly. Therefore, when an elderly person calls for the first time, and they realise that I’m able to arrange the help they need whilst I take the time to listen to them, there’s no better feeling than knowing that I’ve not only made a difference to their life but also to the lives of their friends and family as they will hopefully make other people aware of the services that are available here at 111,” she shares.

“I’m proud to say that I’m helping to support those who are in need of care the most on a daily basis whilst potentially saving some lives too,” she concludes.