"Medical records and lack of reception"

About: Raigmore Hospital

(as a relative),

I used to live in inverness 6 years ago with my partner. We have recently moved back to the area and when attending hospital recently with my partner for their first appointment at Raigmore (continuing treatment for a potentially terminal condition). We arrived at the hospital and entered the main building, unaware that we should have been using the other outpatients entrance. After standing like idiots for a few minutes at the unmanned reception desk we then phoned the extension number randomly placed on a card, after 4 attempts we finally got through to a very helpful woman in medical records? who explained the main reception was no longer manned. I told her as I am stating now that this is unacceptable to have no public face to the hospital. In all our years and visits to different hospitals Raigmore is the only one that has NO "meet and greet" / enquiry desk when you enter - coupled with the fact that it has to be in my opinion the worst laid out with those awful zones. Please do not misunderstand - the staff (when we eventually found / spoke to them) were excellent - especially the poor woman who answered the phone - who I would imagine felt harassed by the constant calls from irate patients and relatives. Bravo for staying so polite and helpful! ! !

We also have another issue, when my partner was seen at appointment he was very very surprised to see that the Doctor had hold of his medical notes from 6 years ago (we moved south then)! ! Working as I do in public sector records management (although granted in the education sector) I feel somewhat confident when I ask - why do Raigmore still hold these records after all this time? Surely they should be culled as there is no clinically relevant information in them from back then, my partner informs me all he previously attended Raigmore with was some dermatitis / skin ailments in an irrelevant area of his body he would rather the Doctor in question didn't know about and wouldn't have if these the record had been disposed of.

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Responses

Response from Linda Kirkland, Interim Director of Operations, Raigmore Hospital, NHS Highland

Dear John

Thank you for taking the time to feedback to us regarding these issues. I can fully appreciate your views on reception.

We have a number of entrances to the hospital and it is a challenge to maintain reception at all of them. We do have "meet and greet" at the out patients entrance but after much deliberation have decided not to replicate this in the ward entrance. I believe it was this entrance you probably used. The desk at this area, I agree is misleading as it is not manned but its presence gives the impression that it should be.

We are in the process of changing that to create a space where the Archie Foundation (who are fund raising for the children's ward) will be able to display their information.

You make a good point though John about the person answering the phone, we have a fantastic team of staff in medical records who answer a number of queries such as yours, I will make sure that feedback to them your kind comments.

With regards to your medical records, there is national guidance regarding the length of time medical records should be retained and it can depend on a number of factors, it is not the same for every record, so without knowing the personal detail, it is very likely that these records were not at the point where they should have been destroyed.

I hope that if you have cause to visit the hospital again John, that it is a more positive experience for you. If you would like to chat through any of this, I would be delighted to do so and I can be reached on 01463 705152, please give me a call

Best wishes

Linda

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Update posted by John68 (a relative)

Thank you for the prompt and lengthy response: albeit, with genuine respect, a tad style over substance. None the less any response is a marvel in and of itself.

I would be interested to know what the decision making process was to have no meet and greet at the MAIN entrance area!? The logic is somewhat counter intuitive to say the least. As said we have been to various hospitals, some good and some not so, and Raigmore, staff-wise and care(thus far) has been one of the better, it is however let down by the layout - my partner reminded me of the map at the entrance and how even that was orientated the wrong way (does not reflect the perspective of the person viewing it from where they stand) and should be rotated. I must say I didn't notice this myself, I was too busy locating the phone......

I would infer and strongly encourage a poll or survey to establish popular opinion on your plans for the this entrance way, as judging by the number of fellow lost and confused souls we met wandering your hospitals corridors, I would suggest the result may not align with the plans.

Re the records, I am sure you are correct, retention does vary, I will check for appropriate policy and legislature online.

Thanking you again for your time and willingness to commit comment to public record, admirable.

Response from Linda Kirkland, Interim Director of Operations, Raigmore Hospital, NHS Highland

Hi john

Thanks again for your feedback. The main entrance you are quite right is the one which has no meet and greet but the one which has the greatest footfall is the outpatient entrance where reception is located.

I must confess not to have noticed the sign being the wrong way round! I will check it!

We recently had two days of an open event for patients and staff to feedback to us issues such as these, and we do plan to do more of these. I will take all your comments to the group taking forward suggestions and ask them to consider your views

Kind regards

Linda

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Update posted by John68 (a relative)

Again, appreciate the response Linda.

I would argue your point about footfall. Sometimes number crunching is just not an effective measure.

Common sense dictates that, yes indeed, there would be a higher throughput in an outpatients setting BUT you are forgetting the type of people who are going to the main entrance. These tend to be people who have loved ones in hospital - admitted - potentially in an ITU ward, possibly dying. As such these people will be emotionally drained, stressed and the last thing they should have to contend with is a search for the correct ward a phone call and having to remember directions.

Wouldn't you agree that for these people, a warm friendly face greeting them would be of benefit and should be a priority? I think so and so do most hospitals I or my partner have ever visited, and I would argue that this benefit far outweighs any measure of footfall...heartache outweighs footfall.

I would also, and correct me if wrong, but I hazard I am not (old head, much experience you see), I would guess that the open events you held were probably situated in the area with the highest footfall I.e. outpatients and hence opinion would naturally be skewed to the perspective. This is understandable as it is what businesses do when they want, not to get real feedback, but to prove their model to themselves. However, and this wont hold true if I am wrong about the above, but possibly do you think if such an open event were held at the main entrance area you might get a different set of responses and feedback.....primarily the need for a meet and greet area?

With Kindest Respect

John

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