How can hospitals in Birmingham improve the waiting experiences for patients?

May 8, 2019
Latest investigation reports patients in Birmingham want good access, clear communication, clean facilities and better support for disabled people.

In our series of 9 NHS hospital reports findings show that some hospitals are managing the waiting experience better than others. Most people shared that they generally receive good or excellent quality care, even when demand for care is high and staff are busy. However, the investigation highlights clear examples where improvements are needed to ensure patient’s basic needs are being met. This includes food, drink and access to clean and comfortable environments.
The reports cover Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals, City Hospital and the Dental Hospital. The reports also include responses by the NHS Trusts, with actions they will take based on people’s views.
We have included a range recommendations within our investigation to improve patient’s experiences. Some hospitals are already taking action with improvements planned. This includes Birmingham Midland Eye Centre, who have already outlined they are improving signage to RNIB standards and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who is working with a local deaf charity to consider the benefits of deaf information card to help identify patient’s specific needs.

The Summary Report, which includes key findings, people’s views, recommendations to improve experiences and the NHS Trusts responses can be read here.

What did we hear?

  • People with a disability want more support in waiting areas

People with mobility issues, sight or hearing impairments who would benefit from additional support to navigate services. Patients report positive experiences of sight-guiding and supportive staff, but would like clearer signage, wheelchair zones in waiting areas and improved disability awareness.

  • Interpreter support needs to be flexible

Deaf or hard of hearing patients would like improvements to British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter support. Patients share that interpreters can be difficult to arrange independently and not flexible with hospital delays, which often results in them leaving part-way through patient’s appointments.

  • Patients like being kept informed

When hospitals are busy and waiting times are longer, patients shared how confusing it can be when they don’t know how long they may have to wait. The investigation highlighted that people are more likely to share positive experiences if staff keep them updated about waiting times, delays or meet their individual communication needs.

  • Quality of care matters

Despite raising concerns about long waiting times, patients shared that being treated by high quality, caring and professional staff is the most important thing. People report being generally happy with the level of care they receive, with some hospitals highly praised.
Andy Cave, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Birmingham stated: “We know there is high demand in NHS hospitals. It is positive to see the hard work and quality of treatment by staff and services has been acknowledged and praised by most patients we spoke to”.
“Our report highlights that people’s overall views about a hospital can be impacted by their experiences of waiting areas. As our investigation shows there is good practice happening, but improvements need to be made to ensure services are disability aware, staff fully trained and hospitals accessible to all patients. This is particularly important for people with sight or hearing impairments, where hospitals rooms can be a stressful and disorienting environment.”
Accessible versions of the Summary Report can be found here.

We are encouraging you to continue sharing your views about NHS hospitals in Birmingham.

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