"Great Outpatients and on the whole Helpful and Friendly Staff."

About: Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Gateshead)

(as the patient),

Having visited outpatients a few times for varying reasons including for ongoing care of a long term condition just felt I would share my experience so far both very good and the opposite.

What I liked:

Appears relatively clean, All volunteers working in outpatients are extremely helpful and easy spotted the reception staff are great as well.

signage is good and clear- however there are areas of it that could be improved as the sign for main outpatient area 3 (I think ) is relatively well hidden so that one can only see as you are in line or past it. Also for such a large outpatients it is very well organised with it sub diving into smaller sections (been to clinics that did the exact opposite as a child and this caused delays of upto 5hrs just trying to find Patients)

The self service check ins are great and so is the barcode scheme on appointments- just a couple suggestions here: if possible before telling the patient which area to proceed to at the end of check in include a clear description/set of instructions of how to follow the screens that tell you when to proceed as for first timer this can be relatively confusing. The other one is it would be helpful if you could extend the barcoded letters to other forms of visits to outpatients as outpatient investigations are not always included and you can not therefore self service check in-and relies on you remembering your letter to tell you where to go.

The text reminder service is great and for me often the only way of finding out I have an appointment (see below) - however the same reservation apply here as to the bar coding of letters and self service check in. Generally all staff involved in my care have been helpful answering (or at least attempting to ) answer my questions and some absolutely amazing.

What I did not like as much:

For some bizarre reason letters seam to take a unbelievably long time to get out of your hospital after date of typing anything up to a month- this has made it quite difficult to obtain repeat prescriptions from GP, letters informing me about my appointment turning up with less than 7 days notice, the text reminder arriving first and reminders turning up after the appointment (although all those about appointments imaging department have been ok).

My Consultant never seems to have the time of day for me: the consultant wrote to explain some test results as I protested at increase in my medication with out explanation. This letter consisted of six lines which the consultant clearly did not really think about as it had one awful grammatical error that means the letter carries no meaning what so ever (it stated "I hoped that this will") and then the letter finishes with a very obvious typo because full stop is followed by a semi-colon. Fair enough not having time to read the letter back but this was right on the end no reading involved!

Sorry I would not be irritated by this but as I have visual perception issues with colour used on the letters, the choice of font not being overly helpful, this just makes the my difficulty in understanding what is said worse- and it took long time to realise what was written made no sense at all.

The consultant also spoke nice and concisely but faster than normal on my one visit in outpatients. As I have learning difficulties related to processing spend this was inappropriate and made me feel as if the consultant wanted me out as fast as possible (great first impression…).

I spoke to a nurse about this afterwards and said that this had to change so we will see.

My Consultant also showed little respect for my minor disfigurement: when they went to check my nails and I have a couple of minor congenital abnormalities on the hand causing a slightly off cosmetic appearance, on this hand the consultant took 120 seconds and was not looking at my nails more like my wrist without the decency of saying so. This is compared with 30 seconds on my normal hand. I never knew it could be quite so entertaining! Anyway the consultant then either felt uncomfortable shaking my hand properly or just wanted to get the appointment over with not allowing me the chance to grab their hand due reduced dexterity and shook it like it was a floppy piece of meat.

However bar these nit picky things and talking to me as if I am a mushroom (not using words exceeding 2syllables and patronising tone) the consultant behaved in a very respectable and professional manner easing the awkwardness of these things. I also appreciate the way I think means I pick up small patterns etc. that I can find irritating and they really are unintentional so will politely point them out next time and how it looks to me.

The other person I did not think act in the best manner was the nurse who rang on behalf of my consultant to tell me to increase my medication doing so on my private mobile. The nurse therefore assumed without asking that they were speaking to me (which she was not). I then got hold of them the next week to say I was not happy with it without explanation as to why. The nurse spoke with the consultant without passing on what I had said (this might be because it went in one ears and then out the other) and came back with a response one can easily extract from a 5 year old. Something my consultant in the awful letter described an explanation- something it was anything but.

Due to the sensitivity of the issue this upset me a reasonable amount and wasted the other nurses time as they had to ring me back when in work the next day with the actual explanation despite I believe probably being in front of the first nurse, also wanting to know why I was upset. Excuse the rant but it wastes both my time and that of your staff if people do that therefore requiring 4 phone calls instead of 2.

The smoking shelter right by the door- why could it not have been a little further it absolutely reeks- like the parents at the entrance to Birmingham Children's- and you have practically walk through it at times.

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