Planning for winter storms

As we slide past the middle of November we have to admit that, so far, autumn has been a fairly mild affair. So much so that Armistice Day 2022 was the warmest on record. Is this warm autumn going to continue or should we be preparing for storms ahead?

According to the Met Office’s long range forecast it’s a bit of a good news, bad news scenario. On the positive side, although the Met office doesn’t rule out the chance of stormy weather at times, they say that the risk of strong winds and storms is less than normal. However, whilst we may see fewer strong gales than in recent years, the risk of excess rainfall is being supplanted by a greater chance of a colder winter.

If the Met Office is right, that means more frost and ice. And if that happens then potentially there will be an increasing demand on health services as pedestrians slip and fall and traffic slides in the icy conditions. And it’s not just physical health which can be affected; with a Met Office survey released in October 2022 revealing that 41% felt their mental health was affected by winter weather.

Planning for such eventualities means finding ways to deliver continuing care without unnecessarily tying up vital resources. Truth be told, at the time of writing there is no way to be certain when this colder weather will arrive. As the Met Office’s Chief Meteorologist, Professor Paul Davies, commented “the science, as yet does not allow for specific detail on, for example, the number of nights of frost, rain or snow over the coming months or when specifically severe weather may occur.” 

That can make planning difficult. How do you agree holiday leave or structure shifts based on likely demand/resource matrices if you don’t know when that demand is likely to occur? And is it really the best use of scares resources to take on extra staff just in case they might be needed when poor weather hits?

One solution could be to develop processes which can be flexed as demand requires. For example, a health practice might decide to appoint a call answering service such as that provided by Clinic Appointments. Available either on a permanent or ‘at need’ basis; having calls answered by an external agency helps to relieve administration burdens, particularly when resources may be stretched. With calls answered in the name of the health practice, clients need not know that you have outsourced the call function.

Our call handlers can screen out unwanted sales calls and answer general enquiries leaving you free to concentrate on patient treatments. Add in the diary management option and we can also book and update appointments as well as send out appointment reminders if required. Over 97% of calls are answered within three rings, providing a professional response for health patients.

Best of all with the option of an overflow or permanent services, health practices have a potential call management solution which can flex as the needs of the business change in response to the weather or to any other factor. The Met Office may not be predicting storms this winter but flexible planning solutions could help health practices to weather any other seasonal pressures that this winter may bring.