“Improving the patient experience is a top priority for us at Ashford and St. Peter’s,” said Trust Chief Executive, Andrew Liles. “And that’s why, in response to this year’s inpatient survey results, we are publishing the plan of improvements we intend to make over the coming year and then to give updates on our progress. This year’s survey shows that out of 9 general areas, we have scored about the same as other NHS hospital trusts in the country which is reassuring and includes patients’ overall experience. We have scored higher than average in several individual areas – communicating the same information to patients that we send to their GPs and asking patients for their views.
We have good clinical results, but what this survey is telling us is that patients are still not content with some of the non clinical aspects to hospital care. Things like communication, treating people with dignity and respect, noise on the wards at night and car parking are just some of the areas that we are determined to crack. Our patients deserve a positive all round experience, from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave our hospitals and this plan is a big step in that direction.”
Our plans include:
- Improving our ward accommodation – we have just begun a year long programme of works to improve our ward areas at both hospitals. This will include complete refurbishment of some of our older wards and installing additional bathroom and toilet facilities to help accommodate men and women in separate areas while staying in hospital.
- Helping to reduce noise at night on our wards – introducing protected sleep time where we can from 11pm – 6am, ensuring staff wear ‘quiet shoes’, making sure headphones are in use for radios and TVs and undertaking regular audits of the adult wards including a review of patient movement to see how we can minimise this.
- Improving our toilet areas by installing automatic air fresheners and sanitary bins with an audit of all toilets at the end of June 2009 to ensure they are up to scratch.
- Introducing disposable cubicle curtains in all our wards which contribute towards infection control and will help to keep the wards looking clean and smart and improve privacy.
- Housekeeping/cleaning notice-boards have recently been put up in all ward areas with pictures of our housekeeping supervisors so patients know who to approach if there is a problem. The boards also include information on how frequently cleaning is taking place which will be audited on a monthly basis.
- Although the survey showed that patients were reasonably content with the quality of food they are served, we still want to make this better. We are currently undertaking a detailed and individual patient survey to identify the exact areas of concern so we can effectively target those areas which need improving – this could include how we serve the food, temperature, choice of dishes and so on. The survey is due to be completed by the end of May.
- Hand hygiene is an area which we know patients are concerned about so we’ll be undertaking regular audits on staff to make sure they are washing their hands between every patient contact and encouraging patients (and other members of staff) to challenge where necessary – reinforcing the point that it’s OK to ask.
- Our Pharmacy team is also reviewing the information patients receive about their medicines when they are discharged and making sure this is sufficient and well communicated.
- Improving car parking at both St. Peter’s in Chertsey and Ashford Hospital – at Ashford we are already part way through resurfacing our two car parks in front of the hospital which will give us a total of 144 public spaces including 14 disabled bays. We are also increasing the number of parking bays for staff. At St. Peter’s, subject to planning permission from Runnymede Borough Council, we will be demolishing some of our older office buildings (known as the Ramp) and replacing these with additional parking, with final completion due in 2010.
Andrew continues: “Over the coming year we will be spending around £10 million on making these improvements. This is a huge investment on behalf of our patients and one of the biggest improvement programmes the Trust has embarked on for some time, and we plan to share our progress at regular intervals over the next year as they develop.”
Compared to last year’s survey, patients have reported significant improvements at the Trust in waiting times in A&E, being given a choice of hospital for their first appointment and waiting times for planned surgery.