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“Sorry for disturbing you at this hour, but are you on call tonight?”

Communications Team

Communications Team

March 31, 2022

Have you ever asked yourself why as doctors working in 2022 we always open the conversation when phoning our senior colleague/consultant in an emergency with a question?

That question — although it seems so innocent it has almost become a courtesy, ‘Mr/Ms/Dr X, sorry for disturbing you at this hour, but are you on call tonight?’ is at the very heart of our modern day struggle as clinicians. Is this not absolutely absurd that in this modern era of social media/what’s app/etc etc where we can hardly go to the bathroom without the world knowing and yet we don’t know who we are on call with?

Imagine the scenario, as I am sure you have all been there. You are the medical registrar, the surgical registrar, the FY1, you are dealing with your specialty’s acute emergency, that STEMI, that AAA rupture, that upper GI bleed. You need at least a senior consult, an update, or worse you need them in NOW. Yet you have to find that paper-based rota somewhere hidden in a cupboard, or worse phone the Hospital telephone operator, they, of course, put you through to the wrong consultant, Hello Mr X?, are you on call tonight we have this bleeding AAA and his BP is only 60…, ‘let me just stop you there — I’m not on-call tonight, but that sounds awful, really sorry I can’t help you further as I am just at dinner with the family here….’ Great, we phone switchboard again and we eventually find the right consultant after 15 minutes delay and they come in and likely save the day and everyone
survives, just.

Except this is happening all over the country, in every hospital, specialty and team on countless occasions EVERY day, how many minutes are being lost by this delay, how many 15 minute delays equal a life lost- immeasurable in real terms but it’s there- make no mistake about it- it is there, but it won’t be brought up at the local M&M meeting, its just an accepted delay- not even recognised, considered or blamed but why??

Let me reverse the situation, you are the consultant on call, and you are covering the weekend, its mid August/October- just weeks after the dreaded junior doctors changeover- you walk onto the ward and you see all these new faces looking after your patients, and you don’t know a single name of your team- similar in theme to the excellent “Hello my name is”campaign, how about the “This is your team” campaign- Again in 2022 how is it the case that we don’t know the team names of our colleagues and we don’t have an easy way of finding their contact details to communicate, support, advise them. Is this acceptable?

We asked ourselves a lot of these questions in early 2015 and searched for a solution - it didn’t exist. We therefore set out on the long road to creating our own system. A system by doctors, for doctors, a system that was simple, live and immediate. A system to help doctors communicate faster to help patients. ‘RotaPal’ is a mobile app that solves these problems, it is our attempt at changing and updating this scarily unacceptable current process- yes in many ways this is a plug for a product we have made, and I make no apologies for that as it comes at great personal risk and cost, but I firmly believe we are the future.

It is time we stopped the delays, it is time we knew the names of the colleagues in our team, it is time we took control.

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