"Staff were professional and helpful but the clinic..."

About: Whipps Cross University Hospital

What I liked

I am 34 weeks pregnant and have been having antenatal appointments in the Antenatal Clinic at Whipps Cross. The midwives and reception staff are professional and polite. Although my appointments have been fairly routine, I have felt able to ask questions and that my concerns were listened to.

What could be improved

There is a lot that could be improved with an investment of time or money.

1. Waiting times in the clinic are far too long. At the last three appointments I have had to wait 2.5 hrs, 40 mins and 1.5 hrs after the scheduled time of my appointment. I don't know if this is because there is a permanent staff shortage or whether other patients regularly exceed the estimated length for their appointments.

2. There is rarely any information about how long you may have to wait unless you seek it out. Occasionally a member of staff will write up an apology on the whiteboard - normally long delays are due to staff shortages. The reception staff, if asked, do their best to let you know where you are in the queue. However, a queueing ticket system (as they have in the blood test clinic at Whipps Cross) would help everyone get an idea of how long they may have to wait. If you are there on your own, it is hard to pop to the loo because you have no idea when you will be called for an appointment.

3. What I find ironic is that most women will have their blood pressure and urine samples tested. Long waits with no idea of how long the wait might be will tend to raise most people's blood pressure, and a urine sample sitting in a hot room will tend to degrade.

4. The WRVS shop in the antenatal clinic sells a range of food and drink but it is mostly unhealthy: chocolate bars, crisps and fizzy drinks. Shouldn't a hospital concession be promoting healthy eating better?

5. Many patients bring small children to the clinic, despite the advice not to bring children. Obviously sometimes this is unavoidable. However the children often look bored during long waits and sometimes take up seats, meaning that pregnant women have to stand. I've also seen children enter random data into the official feedback machines - probably not what the hospital would want! A firmer approach to this would be welcomed.

6. The waiting area and toilets are not as clean as they could be.

Story from NHS Choices

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