Ofcom is working closely with the UK’s telecoms providers (in particular with BT) to make sure all consumers have access to essential communications services during the current situation.
BT is maintaining the Relay UK services and is making sure its staff are able to deal with calls to its 18000 service (the equivalent of 999).
Customers have noticed recently that they have to wait longer than usual to access the service. This is due to more calls and way calls are answered and handled.
BT has introduced a range of measures to help Relay UK manage better with more calls.
- Reallocating staff from other duties to relay calls
- Recruiting and training additional staff
- Looking at options to reduce hang-ups while callers/called parties are waiting for the relay assistant to be joined to the call
Text relay calls are currently handled in a number of locations across the UK. BT may open an additional call centre if this is necessary, and this is being considered.
BT are looking in to prioritising relay calls to NHS 111 so people with health needs will be handled first.
It is useful to remember that NHS 111 is now accessible 24 hours a day in British Sign Language. Relay UK users who are BSL users also have this option: https://interpreternow.co.uk/nhs111.