"Hospital systems, signage policy terrible, staff..."

About: Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham)

What I liked

I attended the Renal outpatient clinic today, for the first time in the new building. It was, to say the least, a very frustrating morning.

As always, the renal staff were wonderful, being as helpful and friendly as usual. All interaction with staff / nurses / Dr's was curtious, friendly and carried out efficiently.

What could be improved

To start with, I hadn't been sent an 'original' appointment letter, but just a 'reminder' one and when you try to scan this at the self check in it will not work if it is a reminder letter - but it dosn't state this on the letter, so you have to manually input your details on the screen, which I do not like doing as I dont like having my information displayed for anyone around me to see, especially in such open areas.

From checking in I only saw one alcohol gel pump (next to the self checkin) and that was empty. There were no others I could see in the many areas i had to wait in / pass through. This had always been a high profile thing in the renal clinics in the Old QE - what has changed with this, why are they no longer available / signs asking people to use it.

Signage for where I had to go after the self check in is very poor. The electronic display instructed me to go to Waiting area 2 Reception 2. When in actual fact the area where the renal clinic was being held and all the paitients were waiting had a large sign on the wall saying 'Waiting Area 1' and at the reception desk a computer printout stuck on the side of the desk saying 'Recption 2', which we missed when going past it the first time. The only thing that did help was the computer printout on top of the desk saying 'Renal Clinic'. When I asked the staff about it they said that they are in Area 2, but nowhere did I see Area 2 on a sign. Better signage is needed to show people where the renal clinic is.

The new system was also supposed to make things run smoother and appointments on time. This is not the case. I arrived 15 minutes early, as usual and still didn't get to see the Dr until 1 hour after my appointment time, not very surprising my blood pressure was so high by the time I was seen.

Anything else?

I don't believe it is the staff & Dr's at fault for the delays in clinic, but from past experience I do believe it is to do with over-booking appointments and this so-called new system does not help or make things run on time.

I have attended other clinics in the hospital and not one of them has run on time and it is very confusing with all the main waiting areas, then check in at another reception, then go to another waiting area.

I asked the staff where I could make a complaint about the signage, etc and was told to go the the PALS room on the way out. I did try to see them, but there were already 2 people waiting outside the door. The first lady had been told to 'wait 2 minutes' when she had knocked over 10 minutes previously, and the gentleman who had arrived 5 minutes after her had knocked and they had not even bothered to answer or open the door to him. So who do we complain to about the staff who are supposed to take the complaints? Needless to say I didnt waste anymore of my time waiting to see them.

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Response from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback on your experience when you visited the Renal Outpatients Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

We are very pleased that you found our staff to be helpful, friendly and courteous. It is a real morale boost for staff to receive feedback like this from patients. It means such a lot to know that the hard work, dedication and commitment of our staff is recognised and valued in this way.

However we are sorry to hear that other aspects of your experience were not so positive; this is certainly not the type of experience we would want anyone to have whilst attending our hospital. We strive to provide the highest standard of care possible and we are very sorry that we have not achieved this on this occasion.

Your comments have been forwarded to the senior managers responsible for this department and we will shortly be posting a more detailed response to the issues you have raised.

We welcome all feedback and would like to assure you that all comments are taken seriously and acted upon as part of our ongoing commitment to improving patient experience.

Response from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust We are preparing to make a change

Thank you for your patience in waiting for a more detailed response to your comments. Your comments have been shared with the senior managers responsible for the Renal Clinic and PALS and they have responded to say:

We are aware that we have had some delays in some outpatient clinics due to overbooking of patients and we are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused to some of our patients. Whilst Outpatient Department staff are aware of the importance of communicating with patients and keeping them informed of delays this clearly didn’t happen on the day you visited. Staff will be further reminded to do this to ensure that future patients have a better experience.

Unfortunately we have had some problems with the reminder letters with the barcodes, which presented some difficulty when patients tried to check in. I understand that this has now been resolved, and that all of our letters which are sent now have a correct barcode.

When a patient selects "Start" or a language on the self check in screen, there is a disclaimer which asks if the patient is happy for their information to be presented on the self check in screen, and on the subsequent plasma calling screen. If a patient declines for their information to appear, they are directed to a receptionist who will book them in manually for their appointment, and be sent straight to the clinic area, thus the patients information will not be displayed on any screen.

A decision has been made that hand gel at the self check in kiosks is not required, however there is hand gel on the reception desks and in the clinical areas.

Thank you for the comments about signage, we have reviewed and will continue to review signage to ensure it is clear for our patients and we have staff on hand - both nurses and reception staff - in order to assist patients if they are uncertain. In light of your comments we will review again. Our aim is to improve the situation and make it as transparent as possible.

We are very sorry that when you tried to visit PALS you were unable to speak to anyone straight away. We respect the privacy and dignity of people using the service therefore we can only assist one person in the office at any time. If we are already assisting someone we may need to ask people to wait to be seen or to call back at another time. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

We would like to thank you again for sharing details of your experience with us, if you visit the department again in the future we would very much hope that you have a more positive experience.

If you would like to discuss your comments or our response in more detail please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service who will be pleased to assist you. You can contact them by phone 0121 371 3280, by email PALS@uhb.nhs.uk, via the hospital website http://www.uhb.nhs.uk/pals.htm or in person by dropping in between 10am-4pm (Mon-Fri) to the PALS office located to the left of the Information desk inside the Main Entrance.