Enter and view: Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Hertfordshire is the independent health and social care champion. Local Healthwatch is in place to gather the views and experiences of people accessing services, to use this information to influence decisions and to provide information and advice to the local community about health and social care services. These Enter and View visits are ‘announced’ visits. A request from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was made for some independent feedback prior to the Trust’s CQC inspection. It was agreed that Healthwatch Hertfordshire would make 3 Enter and View visits (2 to Watford General Hospital and 1 to St Albans City Hospital) . Healthwatch Hertfordshire visited Watford General Hospital 07 August 2017, 10.30 – 14.30, St Albans City Hospital 09 August 2017, 10.30 - 14.00 and Watford General Hospital 11 August 2017, 10.30 – 14.00. The report informed Healthwatch Hertfordshire spoke to over 50 patients and relatives and visited 14 departments and wards. The majority of patients rated their experience as good or very good with many saying how hard the staff worked and how caring they were. Staff came across as professional yet friendly when we visited the wards. Staff did not always use the ‘Hello my name is..’ phrase but always greeted the volunteers and introduced themselves. If they were unsure of who we were, we were always asked in a non confrontational way which still felt welcoming. Some excellent interactions between staff and patients were observed with Bluebell ward showing outstanding care and support. In outpatients nobody complained about long waits though people expected to wait and came prepared just in case. Hand gel was available everywhere and none tested were empty. The report informed there were inconsistencies around who actually had a Patient Carer and Visitor bedside guide with patients at St Albans City hospital appearing not to have any. Generally, though there was information about the staff on duty, there were no staff photographs except on Flaunden ward. Most patients, unless they had walked or came by bus, mentioned car parking and the cost of it as an issue. The Trust is very aware of this and has put a number of initiatives in place to ease the situation. The PayByPhone automated telephone appeared to be temperamental but the mobile App worked well. Concessionary parking, carers benefits and help if the outpatient appointment runs over need to be more widely advertised. Communication around delays and what happens next need to be consistent, timely and more detailed. For example letting patients know that emergency admissions may mean increased waiting time or explaining the process as to why it takes several hours to receive medication on the day of discharge. The report includes 14 recommendations and does include a response from the provider.

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General details

Report title 
Enter and view: Watford General Hospital and St Albans City Hospital
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
Date of publication 
Thursday, 24 August, 2017
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 7 August, 2017
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 11 August, 2017
Type of report 
Enter and view
Key themes 
Car parking charges
Public involvement
Quality of staffing
Quality of treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
Visit to provider
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Acute services with overnight beds
Acute services without overnight beds / listed acute services with or without overnight beds

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Service manager
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.