"I have used other walk-in services in..."

About: Bensham Hospital

What I liked

I have used other walk-in services in other areas and always found them very efficient and useful, particularly when I am not in my local area or easy reach of my GP. I was expecting similar standards at Bensham, however I was left disappointed.

What could be improved

I visited the walk-in center on 25/09/2010 as I was not within easy reach of my local GP. After registering my arrival at the reception desk I was told there would be a 30 minute wait to be seen.

30 minutes came and went and eventually after waiting for 1 hour I was seen by a nurse who paid little attention to my problem and a porter/trainee nurse directed me straight back to the waiting room. No apology was made for the delay, and after waiting so long my assessment took less than a 90 seconds. I felt as if I was only seen in order to satisfy a waiting time target. I was told that there would be a further 3 hour wait to be seen again. That would result in a 4 hour wait in order to have my basic problem seen to.

After returning to the waiting area I asked the people sitting next to me how long they'd been waiting and they'd been there even longer than that; so I gave up waiting and went home without my problem being properly seen to or resolved.

The waiting room is uninspiring and very uncomfortable, metal chairs are not suitable for such a long wait.

Anything else?

Car parking charges are also excessive. Reception are is not very private when giving details.

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Response from Bensham Hospital

Thank you for your comments. The walk-in centre at Bensham Hospital is run by the Primary Care Trust, and one of my colleagues from the Trust has provided this response:

“In terms of waiting times, the service has a target which states that it should complete the treatment of all patients within four hours. The service always achieves this target and most patients are seen and treated within two hours. I am sorry that this was not your experience. There were 108 patients seen that day (which was higher than average) and all were seen within four hours.

“There is a triage system in place whereby all patients are assessed within 30 minutes of arrival to determine the urgency of their condition and how quickly they need to be seen. This is to ensure very sick people are given priority. Triage also ensures that, if the patient cannot be treated by the service, they can be signposted to the right service without a lengthy wait. I am sorry that you appeared to wait an excessive period of time for this assessment and that there were no explanations for the delay. This would not be the expected standard and is very unusual. The whole triage process is currently being reviewed and this will be used as an example when meeting with the staff.

“With regards to the waiting room, we are sorry that this was considered uninspiring and very uncomfortable, and that the metal chairs were not suitable for such a long wait. The chairs which have no padding were selected to minimise vandalism. We have had a number of comments about the chairs and will seek to purchase something more comfortable in future or when replacement is due. In addition, as a result of comments from other patients, we have asked the receptionists not to ask personal details at reception.

We would be happy to investigate this matter further, if you would like to contact us.”

Julie McDonald

Senior Nurse/Business Manager, Urgent Care

0191 502 6572

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for the car parking charges at Bensham Hospital. Our charges are in line with other hospitals and the money taken from car parking charges is directly reinvested to provide car park security, maintenance and management.

Thank you again for your comments.

Ian Renwick

Chief Executive

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

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