Pirya Chaunkria – Patient Access Team Leader

Caring Priya Chaunkria manages one of the busiest departments at a Black Country hospital Trust – helping on average 300 patients a day.

As a team leader for the Patient Access Team at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Priya ensures that the booking system is run like clockwork.

“My team manages all outpatient bookings and appointments that have been cancelled by patients,” she explained.

“We have to work quickly to ensure those slots are filled. It’s a fast-paced environment and we face different challenges every day.

“If a patient cancels their appointment on the day, we do our best to fill up that appointment quickly so that it won’t be wasted and another patient can still be seen and treated. It means that patients get the right care at the right time.”

Priya, 27, who is based at Sandwell Hospital, is also part of the new Postage Project being introduced at the Trust, which will enable patients to be contacted by email – and she even came up with the slogan for the initiative ‘let’s see the future today’.

“The Postage Project is all about going forward by using technology that we already have,” she said. “We want to act quickly and speed up the booking and cancellation process, and by contacting patients by email, we will achieve this.

“Once the patients have agreed to this, it will be easier for them to change, reschedule and cancel their appointments.

“For many, email is a normal part of daily life and it is natural that our patients who are online will want to be able to receive correspondence from us in this way.

“Obviously there are groups of people who wouldn’t use email, and for them, we will continue to send out their correspondence by post.

“The project is one of many which the Trust is carrying out to become paper-light.”

Priya, from Wolverhampton, was just 17 when she started her career in the NHS.

She recalled: “I took a temporary job with the Trust as appointment booking clerk based  in the medical records department. I was only supposed to be there for three months. But afterwards, the department offered me a permanent role, and I have never looked back since.

“Working for the NHS is probably the best thing that I have done. I enjoy helping people and I really care how I could make things easier for our patients.

“I am also able to communicate with patients in my mother tongue Punjabi. This helps tremendously as sometimes those people are nervous about contacting the hospital. They are worried they won’t be able to speak to someone who understands them.”

Priya is quick to name her manager Mark Whitehouse as her very own hero. She explained: “He has been very supportive in my progression here at the Trust and is always there to guide me.”