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27.09.23 – Praise for Staffordshire County Council Call Blocking Scheme, UHNM Open New Maternity Assessment Unit

Written by on 26 September 2023

A scheme protecting elderly and vulnerable people in Staffordshire from the risks of nuisance sales calls has received national praise.

The free call blocking devices are fitted to people’s telephones by Trading Standards officers from Staffordshire County Council and help to stop unwanted calls.  The scheme is part of a campaign by National Trading Standards who have singled out the authority for its successes.

According to UK Finance, around 3 million scams took place during 2022 and it is estimated that half of all scams start with a phone call.

A call blocker stops up to 95% of unwanted & nuisance calls to a home phone.

So far, the devices have been fitted in over 150 Staffordshire households, preventing an estimated 92,000 unwanted calls.

One elderly resident from Chadsmoor in Cannock, was receiving up to three calls a day from a scammer claiming to be from a well known energy company.  The calls caused much anxiety, however once the call blocker device was installed, the calls stopped, making a real difference to her life.

Talking about the scams, her daughter Gail said: “We’ve had real peace of mind since the call blocker was installed back in September 2022.  Mum had previously been the victim of white good scams and was receiving up to three unwanted calls a day.  The call blocker has stopped all the nasty scam calls coming through to Mum.  It’s absolutely brilliant.”

Trading Standards officers are now calling for more people with elderly and vulnerable family members to consider the system.

Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “This has been an important piece of work for our officers and it’s great the see the difference the devices can make.

“Nuisance sales calls may sound harmful enough, but they are very menacing.  When an older person or someone with memory loss receive them, it can cause a huge amount of stress.  In some cases, officers have also dealt with victims who have handed over personal information, bank account details and passwords which has resulted in financial loss.

“Installing a device can make a huge difference and not only helps protect vulnerable people but also gives their families piece of mind.  We have a simple application process in place that allows individuals, or their loved ones, to apply online.  I would definitely encourage people to get in touch with our Trading Standards teams and consider getting one installed.”

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams team, said: “We are proud to be offering this valuable technology to all trading standards teams and partner agencies in the UK.

“The call blocking units make a huge difference to people’s lives by drastically reducing the amount of scam and nuisance calls they receive, giving them peace of mind and more confidence in answering the phone.

“Installation of call blockers has also been proven to increase people’s wellbeing.  Staffordshire County Council is doing excellent work to identify those who would benefit from a call blocking unit and is making a real difference to the local community.”

Trading Standards also work closely with their partners to install the devices, including Staffordshire Victim Gateway.  Emma from the charity explained that they supported an elderly person who was a victim of a violent crime, who was also receiving up to 50 nuisance calls a week.

Emma said:  “Having the device installed in the client’s home was fantastic.  In a two-hour visit prior to the device going in, we counted seven unwanted calls alone.  Now she doesn’t get any and says it has changed her life and she can now sit down without feeling on edge, waiting for the next call. She and her granddaughter say a big thank you for the quick response.”

Further details on the scheme and how to register for a device are available at Trading Standards webpage

Photo caption: Trading Standards Manager, Tony Shore with Cllr Victoria Wilson

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Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent mums-to-be are to benefit from a new revamped Maternity Assessment Unit (MAU) which has officially opened at University Hospitals of North Midlands.

The unit at the Royal Stoke Maternity Centre has taken just 12 weeks to build and features a waiting area, a reception which is staffed 24 hours a day and extra triage space meaning more patients will be seen safely and quicker.

The new MAU has been introduced in response to findings from a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection which took place in March and highlighted that women and families were not in sight of staff when they were waiting to be seen. Now, the new MAU reception and waiting areas mean staff are visible at all times to keep women safe while they are waiting to be assessed.

Donna Brayford, Deputy Director of Midwifery, said: “We are delighted to open our new MAU. It will be an amazing change for the team and women of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. As a team we continue to drive improvements and ensure high quality care in everything we do.”

All service users attending the Maternity Assessment Unit (MAU) are now triaged within 15 minutes of attendance and clear processes are put into place to prioritise, escalate, monitor and manage any delays to inductions of labour to ensure the safety of patients.

Ann-Marie Riley, Chief Nurse, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that our new MAU area is now open. The area offers a new reception and waiting area and some additional space for patients to be assessed. I would like to extend my thanks to all those who supported this project which will undoubtedly improve the experience of those who use the service.”

UHNM Capital Development Project Manager, Paul Cumberlidge who lead the build said: “The design and construction teams understood the serious nature of this request and mobilised immediately. Construction work has been delivered in record time which means that no patient will be left unattended whilst they wait to be seen and a much safer environment has been created.”