Berkshire Fire Service plea over wrongly dialled calls

A fire service has been inundated with hundreds of calls from people trying to contact a hospital.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service says operational training has been disrupted by callers who actually want the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

A spokesman added that callers included people who were bereaved, out-patients trying to obtain crucial test results and man whose wife was in labour.

The hospital has appealed for people to check their number before dialling.

RBFRS said the problem, which started when the hospital changed its number several years ago, has escalated.

The fire service numbers begins 0118 932 and RBH's number begins 0118 322.

Lee Arslett, head of telecommunications for RBFRS, said: "All [the hospital's] new numbers start with 0118 but don't have a 9 in them.

"The problem we have is the calls default to the nearest similar number and they are all coming through to us because our numbers start with 932."

The problem affects all the fire service's sites, including stations and headquarters departments.

Mr Arslett said staff spend "a lot of time answering calls from people who have misdialled when trying to reach the hospital".

He added: "The other day, firefighters on one station were trying to train and had to stop work throughout the day to answer the phone - nearly every call was for the hospital."

An RBH spokesman said: "We have worked extremely hard to ensure that all patients and users of trust services have the correct contact details and we also make these clearly available on our website."

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