"Brilliant building, poor communications"

About: Southmead Hospital

No one can surely discredit the amazing new building at Southmead Hospital. However, the communication between staff and varying departments has left something to be desired. After waiting a total of 13 hours between A&E and waiting for my minor surgery, I was left with a bitter taste. I cannot fault the quality of the staff that treated me, and I am full of praise for the young nurse that constantly reassured and comforted me. However, the sheer lack of doctor - patient communications was appalling. Not once during my wait did someone attempt to explain the situation to me or apologise for the wait. Considering I was due to have a general anaesthetic, I was not allowed to eat or drink prior to my surgery. In respect of this, the 13 hours wait was made even more uncomfortable due to lack of food or water since the night before. The fact I eventually undertook a local anaesthetic is by the by, however, it appears a lack of communication made for an even lesser opinion of the experience. In addition to this, as I had been referred to the surgery theatres from the previous day from A&S, it appeared my details were left trailing behind me and had not been 'put on the system' yet. My resounding impression of the whole experience remains - 'what's the point in fantastic staff and facilities when basic communications and systems are fundamentally lacking?' To put the icing on the cake, during my visit, it appeared all card payments throughout the whole of the hospital were down and consequently left myself and other patients no doubt struggling to find change for a mere bottle of water. This added to the consistent pain of parking at the hospital. Why build a super-hospital when you have failed to provide a car park prior?! The sheer lack of parking and roads surrounding the Brunel building were a complete nightmare and only added to the stress of the situation. How it is expected that people can arrive on time to their appointments when they have to circle the block numerous times just to pay a fortune for care? Not only this, but considering I was referred to A&E I would have expected to have parked in the specially allocated A&E car park (which is free to users). With less than 50 allocated spaces, I had to park over the complete opposite side of the grounds, pay a ridiculous fee, and walk the journey back to A&E. With a minor emergency I was able to walk, but surely it is unacceptable to expect poor patients who ultimately could be in agony and unable to walk, to endure such stress attempting to get in the door of the hospital! In spite of my grumbles, I have the highest praise for the brilliant staff at Southmead. However, my whole hospital experience was somewhat clouded by poor systems and basic hospital planning.

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Response from Southmead Hospital

Dear Amy – thank you for taking the time and trouble to provide your feedback on your care and treatment at Southmead Hospital. I am pleased that on the whole your care was good and I hope that you will soon be fully recovered from your surgery. The services as a whole have still to fully adjust to the new environment and the settling process continues and will do for some months yet. This was an expected consequence of effectively moving two hospitals into a brand new building, and asking staff to abandon local processes and practices developed over many years, and a huge amount of planning was undertaken ahead of the move to deal with the expected issues. The project as a whole represented one of the biggest patient centred changes undertaken within the NHS in recent years. Please be assured that all the staff, at all levels within the organisation, are working hard to resolve the remaining unexpected infrastructure issues, These have inevitably impacted on wards ability to deliver seamless patient care and I am sorry that you have experienced that sometimes the care and communication from staff has not been of the exceptional standards we expect. Additionally all staff are attending mandatory iCARE training to help them understand the service from the patient/visitor perspective and so deliver improved communication and be more responsive. I am afraid the issues you refer to with credit and debit card payments was beyond the hospital’s control, but we recognise the parking was always going to be a temporary problem. The new Phase 2 multi-story car park will have many dedicated parking spaces, which will provide easy access to the main hospital, but the logistics of the development meant this could not be provided until the old hospital buildings, that currently occupy the space to be used, have been demolished. Unfortunately, the hospital could not logistically continue to operate two sites until all phases of the development were completed for cost reasons. The improved facilities elsewhere on site will then reduce the demand on the current A&E parking. We are confident that once the hospital has all the required new parking facilities in place it will provide much improved access for everyone visiting the new hospital, but please accept my apologies for the temporary but inevitable consequences of having what is effectively two hospitals; the new and the old which is being demolished, on the same site. Kind Regards – Steve Sykes Advice and Complaints Team

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