Experience of using signage at Croydon University Hospital

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Summary of report content

In October and November 2019, Healthwatch Croydon undertook a series of mystery shopping exercises at Croydon university hospital. They used genuine anonymised appointment letters and attempted to find their way to the departments set out in the letters.

A majority found the letters unclear – letters used terms such as departments instead of clinics and names of units compared with the medical speciality name that may be on the sign, as well as ways of accessing certain points on the hospital site.

A majority of those following the signage found it unclear or difficult to follow: Again a consistency to what was on the signs and the letter made it unclear, but the display also made it difficult to follow. This affected the time it took to get to a location

There was little support for people who were lost or confused: There were few volunteers to support patients in finding their destination and more reliance on members of the public to help people find their way.

Toilets could easily be found but were not in good order. Accessing toilets is a key part of the patient experience for an appointment.

Lifts were seen as available, but there was some confusion about those which were for clinical access only.

There needed to be better route planning for those with mobility issues.

There were six recommendations about reviewing and testing letters; improving the readability of signage, directing patients to the best entrance to use; ensuring step free access routes, ensuring toilets are in good working order and supporting visitors that are lost.


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General details

Report title 
Experience of using signage at Croydon University Hospital
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Croydon
Date of publication 
Thursday, 26 November, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 October, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 30 November, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
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 
Inpatient care

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
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? 
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? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
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.