Survey of people waiting in Accident and Emergency at Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Corby Urgent Care Centre

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Summary of report content

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments across the country receive regular media coverage over issues such as long waiting times to be seen and perceived over use by the public when other services may be more appropriate. Northampton General Hospital (NGH) and Kettering General Hospital (KGH) A&E departments have faced increasing pressure in recent times and the public are encouraged to ‘choose well’ when deciding which emergency services to use. Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN, the independent consumer champion for people using health and social care) wants to make sure that the views and experiences of local people are heard by the decision makers. Healthwatch Northamptonshire asked local people about their experiences of accessing and using the two local A&E departments and the urgent care centre in Corby. During two weeks in May 2015, Healthwatch Northamptonshire conducted 69 visits to the county’s A&E and urgent care centres at different times of the day and evening: NGH A&E department, KGH A&E department and Corby Urgent Care Centre (UCC). In total Healthwatch Northamptonshire spoke to 565 different people - patients, carers of patients, or family members, to find out about their experiences of emergency and urgent care services and of seeking help before arriving at the A&E department/urgent care centre. Just over half of the people Healthwatch Northamptonshire spoke to (54%) had tried to get help or advice from another service before arriving at UCC, NGH or KGH. Last year Healthwatch Northamptonshire conducted a similar survey of patients at NGH A&E. 5 Two thirds of patients had tried to get help from elsewhere. The present findings are also in line with a recent national report from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Patients Association. They found that “patients are aware of alternatives to A&E, but many still attend A&E because they are unable to access help elsewhere…substantial numbers of patients attend A&E because they are advised to do so by other healthcare providers”. The majority of patients Healthwatch Northamptonshire spoke to who did get try to get help elsewhere, only tried one form of help before arriving at A&E or urgent care (92%), the majority of which was from their GP (64%). 35 patients mentioned not being able to get an appointment at their GPs as the reason they came to A&E that day. Trying to get help from the pharmacists (four people) and walk in centres (two people) was rare, as was the case last year at NGH. Experiences of A&E varied among the people we spoke to, but most people seemed satisfied and were positive about staff and treatment. Waiting times in A&E/Urgent care, food and drink options, parking and the environment of A&E were the most common topics of complaint or suggestion for improvement. There a minority of further comments and observation suggested there were a few cases of poorer care. Even if appropriate medical care is given, it is important for patients to feel they have been treated with dignity and respect.

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General details

Report title 
Survey of people waiting in Accident and Emergency at Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Corby Urgent Care Centre
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Northamptonshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Type of report 
Key themes 
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Quality of treatment
Staff levels
Waiting time to be seen once arrived at appointment
Waiting times and lists for 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 
Accident & emergency

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
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 
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

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.