Telecare Services Association – members' concerns (UK)

Categories: Latest News.

Several TSA members have privately expressed concerns about recent developments at the TSA that this editor – Steve – thought could do with a little airing.

First is concern over the adoption of a softer call handling performance indicator (PI) for the Telecare Code of Practice – 97.5% in 60 seconds, compared with the British and European standards requirement of 98.5% in 60 seconds. (There is also a PI of 99.0% in 180 seconds). This surely only benefits members who cannot meet the more demanding standard and reduces the ability of service commissioners to distinguish between good and excellent providers based on accreditation and the PIs.

Next is the news that on Tuesday the TSA’s three co-opted telehealth directors were told without warning that their services are no longer required as the TSA intends to appoint a ‘clinical director’. Given their stalwart support for the TSA to date, and while another half-time telehealth adviser is still to be appointed, this seems precipitous and somewhat ungracious.

But perhaps it is also ungracious to wonder where the clinical standard for the new director will be set? Medical or nursing?


  1. Leslie Morson

    Steve, have to disagree on this one. TSA is a members organisation the adjustment to the PI’s is in response to lobbying by the membership. This is wholly appropriate and correct and these changes do not reflect negatively on either performance standards nor safeguarding of clients. Commissioners have the code period – to aid them if they wish in distinguishing between ‘good and excellent’ this remains the same. Members lobbied for these changes to protect the excellent services they provide, excellence is not just quantitative it is qualitative too. These changes will support the ongoing delivery of the all important quality of the response clients receive whilst call handling.

    In this instance TSA should be applauded for listening to it’s membership.

  2. Steve

    I wanted to provide clarification on the two issues you raised.

    First, the change to the call handling KPI was made following extensive discussion with our membership. In the 2005 TSA Code service providers were required to meet a standard of 98.5% of calls answered within 60 seconds, but there was a 2% tolerance, making the target in effect 96.5%. With the introduction of the 2009 Code the tolerance was amended to 1%, and a new requirement of 97.5% (minimum) of calls answered within 60 seconds set for the first year of the new Code. The aim was to remove the tolerance totally during 2010/11.

    However, from subsequent discussions with members it was identified that while they were able to achieve the 97.5% requirement, some were finding 98.5% within 60 seconds to be beyond their reach, mainly due to current budgetary pressures and a ban on recruiting new staff. Their failure to achieve this single KPI, while meeting all other requirements and KPIs of the Code meant their whole service was then viewed as failing the accreditation process. TSA recognised these difficulties and so adjusted its requirement so that service providers attaining all requirements of the Code and achieving 97.5% of calls handled within 60 seconds, satisfied the accreditation process. However it was also recognised that the attainment of the higher standard (98.5%) needed to be recognised, so the TSA has introduced a ‘Platinum’ status that can be gained by service providers accredited for all the services they provide (including all the new modules), meeting the 98.5% standard and also the European Technical Specification for social alarms.

    On the other point about co-opted directors, it is important to point out that they are elected by the board on an annual basis and only where there is an identified lack of a particular expertise within the elected board. Following the last TSA AGM the board reviewed this approach and concluded that rather than re-appoint the co-opted directors, that TSA needed to move to a permanent position on the board that reflected the growing importance of Telehealth to its members and our stated intention to develop a Telehealth Code of Practice. So the board decided to begin the process to appoint a clinical director. The previous co-opted directors were kept informed of the review and then the subsequent decision. I regard this as a very positive step for the TSA and confirms the growing importance and increased service provision of Telehealth.

    So it is disappointing that both your reports reflect a misinformed position.

    Trevor Single