"Ridiculous pre-paid parking charges / Bureaucracy"

About: Birmingham Children's Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics Torbay Hospital / Accident and emergency

(as a relative),

My son broke his clavicle on holiday in Devon, and after being seen in Torbay A&E, we were advised to visit the Fracture Clinic of BCH some 3/4 days later.

On the way back, we rang BCH who after hearing our query, transferred us to the Fracture Clinic, who after hearing our query then transferred us to the 'call centre' - surely this could have been done either by routing calls directly to the call centre first?

Once we'd actually got through to the call centre, who then heard our query, they then said that despite having a copy of Torbay A&E notes, and the X-Ray on disc, we couldn't 'self refer' and would have to go and take up our GP's time asking him to ring on our behalf to make an appointment. Computer says 'No'.

Naturally, we then went to our GP who then called the hospital on our behalf, and was told that we just had to drop in anyway, and no appointment was made!

This just seemed like a completely pointless exercise & a total waste of at least two hospital receptionist's time, my GP's valuable time and to us it seems like a classic example of inefficiency.

When we got to the hospital, we parked the car in BCH's off-site parking area. No signs to advise you the quickest pedestrian route to the hospital, and oh my goodness - what ridiculous charges! I could park at Snow Hill Station half a mile away, in the Council's lovely well maintained multi storey, with large bays and clear pedestrian route's painted, nearer to the business district, & shops (which if anything would command a premium) for half the price. This is my main gripe number 1 - parking that appears to be double the commercial rate.

Gripe 2 - Unfortunately, because we were not given an appointment, and because even if we had been given one, we accept that emergencies come up and appointments can be delayed, we had no idea how much parking to pay for - who knows - an hour? two hours? three? five?

Because it was off-site, it wasn't like we could just 'nip out' and add another hour if we were getting close.

For goodness sake, even at the QE's multi storey car park they make you pay on the way out, so you only pay for the parking you have used.

We got into the Fracture Clinic which was incredibly hot & stuffy and it was standing room only, even though we were assured it wasn't that busy - er hello?! You have patients and their families crammed in with no fresh air to breathe, inadequate seating, and no water cooler or vending machine, with no idea when they're going to be seen?

Then, the definite up side to our visit. The heat & stale air hit us as we stepped in through the door, and we were already cheesed off by the parking so not in the sunniest of moods, but the receptionist was lovely! She was professional, but friendly and affable - a real credit to the team at the Fracture Clinic/BCH as a whole.

After we were seen, and given no advice other than "See you in 3 weeks for a follow -up" (another annoyance - the A&E/GP told us that there was nothing that could be done, but that we'd still need to be on the Fracture Clinic's paper trail in order that we could get the follow up appointment. The FC could have taken the details over the phone, or the GP could have emailed them over - why waste everyone's time with this appointment in the first place?

I have experience inefficiency in the NHS before so this was no surprise, the crazy pre-pay parking charges most certainly were.

Still, another family pulled into the car park just as I was leaving (with another few paid for hours left on the ticket) so I was glad to pass my ticket on to them.

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Responses

Response from Alison Stanton, Patient Relations Manager, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

I am so sorry to hear of your poor experience at BCH.

Please do call and let us know whether or not you would like to register this internally, as in that way, we can respond to your concerns personally.

All feedback is so important to us and allows us to make changes as appropriate.

Our contact details are below:

Lisa Hutchinson, Information and Legal Assistant, 0121 333 8434; and

Alison Stanton, Patient Relations Manager, 0121 333 8419.

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Response from Deputy Head of Nursing, Patient Experience & Participation Lead, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Dear v_tricky

Further to the response above, I have now had the opportunity to look in to the comments a little more by talking to the staff who have responsibility for the call centre and the car parking. I apologise this has taken a little while, I wanted to ensure I had the correct information before responding to try to explain what would usually happen.

Regarding the call centre I am sorry that this was your experience; I hope this offers some reassurance that it is not what usually happens when this type of call is received.

When a referring hospital (Torbay in this instance) contact BCH to request a Fracture Clinic appt, they would provide the child demographics to BCH Call Centre staff who would register the child and book a suitable Fracture Clinic appointment.

T he referring A&E department would then notify the family of their appointment date and time at BCH (that call is usually made while family are still in attendance at the referring hospital).

Call Centre practice is to book patients into Fracture Clinic appointments following a self referral so long as the family have all relevant documents from their visit to another Trust’s A&E – this is something that is regularly done by the Call Centre. In this instance, without knowing who the person spoke to at BCH it is difficult to confirm if a member of the Call Centre staff made a mistake or, if indeed, it was actually a member of the Call Centre staff who spoke to you.

At no point should a member of the Call Centre advise a family to arrive in a Clinic without giving an appointment date/time.

With regard to car parking at BCH, The Head of Facilities advises that the cost of parking at BCH is less expensive than council charges.

BCH charge £2 for 2 hours, £4 for four hours and £5 for six hours

The Council charges are £1.40 for thirty minutes, 2.70 for one hour and 5.40 for two hours.

The Trust also makes special arrangements with long term patients/parents of £10 week after they have been admitted for a period in excess of 7 days, to try to reduce the expense incurred from parking.

I do accept fully the difficulty and frustration in not knowing how long is required when attending an appointment with the pre payment method.

We are in the process of seeking additional car parking spaces from private vendors through a European Tender. The estimated date for implementation is currently March 2012, it is anticipated that future payment methods would be on exiting the car park, as is some of our existing parent and visitor parking.

In terms of signage for pedestrians, this is a valid point and arrangements are being made to purchase additional signage to the hospital.

Thank you for your positive comments regarding the receptionist in fracture clinic, I will certainly pass these on to her.

My apologies again that your experience was not to our usual standard. If you have any additional concerns and would like to discuss this issue further, I would be very happy to meet with you.

Please phone my direct line on 0121 333 8619 if you wish to arrange a time, or you can contact Alison or Lisa on the numbers above.

Kind regards,

Janette

Janette Vyse

Lead for Patient Experience & Participation

t: 0121 333 8619

Janette.vyse@bch.nhs.uk