According to the World Health Organization, H1N1 swine flu has killed more than 700 people globally since the outbreak began four months ago. Swine flu is now officially a pandemic, an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region.
In England, the National Pandemic Flu Service will soon be operating as part of the government’s fight against the virus. Initially it was planned to be introduced in the autumn, although the sudden demand of new cases of swine flu in July 2009 meant that it was brought forward.
To educate the public about swine flu; its symptoms and how to deal with any suspected outbreaks, The UK Department of Health has also setup an information line: 0800 1 513 513 which is set to be manned by 2,000 people.
Here are 10 reasons why the swine flu information line is an 0800 phone number:
1. 0800 numbers are free to call from a landline. This encourages people to call the information line and means that there is no cost barrier in doing so.
2. 0800 numbers are highly memorable. The information line is very memorable in order for people to recall it with ease after seeing it on leaflets and TV campaigns etc.
3. The phone line will be advertised nationally and therefore the phone number needs to be non-geographic (no local dialling code) in order to encourage calls from across the UK.
4. The information line will get thousands of calls. With an 0800 number, intelligent call management systems can be used in order to ensure that each call is distributed evenly throughout the call center to ensure that every call is answered.
5. 0800 numbers enable the information line to present people with a recorded introduction message when they dial it. E.g. “Thank you for calling the swine flu information line.” This recorded message then goes on to educate people about swine flu, who is more at risk and the symptoms of the virus.
6. By using an 0800 number, the swine flu information line can have caller options to ensure that people are transferred to the relevant department or service. E.g. “For more information about swine flu and what a pandemic is, press 1, for details about how you can protect yourself, press 2, to order an information leaflet , press 3… etc.”
7. Callers to the information line can be queued if all lines are busy.
8. It’s possible to record calls to 0800 numbers. This could help the Department of Health train their 2000 call center operatives.
9. 0800 numbers allow organizations to see where their calls are coming from and the total number of calls they receive with online call statistics. This could help the Department of Health gauge where the flu is more of a problem and work out exactly where health providers are under pressure.
10. People trust 0800 numbers because they are established UK phone numbers.
There is no doubt that the swine flu information line is set to be busy in the upcoming weeks and months. By choosing an 0800 number, the Department of Health has ensured that it will easily cope with the demand, offer people a free call from a landline and communicate the required information and advice necessary in the midst of a global pandemic.