Patient engagement at Northwick Park Hospital
Patient engagement is central to the work of Healthwatch. We visit health and social care facilities, where we talk to staff and patients to hear their views on the service. After our visits, we report back to the care provider to give them the feedback we’ve gathered and to make recommendations.
In April 2019, our team visited Edison Ward in Northwick Park Hospital. Edison is an enhanced care and medical high dependency facility, which also houses a Surgical Assessment Unit. This is where GPs and A&E departments refer patients they think might need surgery. Once there, patients are assessed by doctors from the surgical team who decide whether they need an emergency operation or not.
We spoke with eight patients and six staff members to find out about their experience on the ward. Overall, people were very positive about the staff and the service, but there were some areas in which they felt improvements could be made. One common complaint was about the waiting area used by patients referred for surgical assessment. Several people mentioned that the seats were hard and uncomfortable, which was especially difficult for those who had to wait a long time to be seen while feeling unwell. Some told us that they didn’t know how to call for assistance if they needed help. We also heard that information about the service was confusing and could have been more clearly displayed.
Northwick Park Hospital responded to our recommendations in June 2021. They recognised that the seating in the waiting room was uncomfortable and added some padded chairs, as well as one with a high back. The hospital placed signs in the waiting area directing people to the call bell, in case they need help. The notice board has been tidied up so that information about the ward and its services is clear and easy to understand. The hospital also informed us that the Surgical Assessment Unit will soon be relocated to a new ward, which means they will be able to further improve the waiting room facilities. There will be two separate areas for patients at different stages of their assessment, which will be larger with better seating.
We’re pleased our feedback has helped Edison Ward improve its service for patients. Medical staff strive to provide the best care they can, but sometimes things can get overlooked. Comfortable seating can make a big difference for someone in pain and it’s important patients know how to call for help.
This is Healthwatch in action; making sure patients are heard and working with healthcare providers to help bring change.