Waiting for hospital treatment: a qualitative report on patient experience in SouthwarkDownload (PDF 646KB)
Summary of report content
HW Southwark carried out 11 in-depth interviews with local people waiting for hospital treatment. They found that while the interviewees’ experiences of waiting for hospital treatment were generally negative, they were understanding of the pressures on the NHS, appreciative of staff time and any direct communication. A few were adept at managing their health, but there was a general sense of just about managing - 'getting by' one day at a time.
Their experiences of waiting had four main aspects:
- Uncertainty - Related to lack of communication and a sense of 'not knowing'.
- Fighting - Feeling like they alone had to constantly push for things to happen.
- Crisis - Uncertainty and exhaustion while waiting contributed to a decline in mental health, physical health, or relationships.
- Resignation - People accepted what was happening and felt they couldn't change it or weren't in control.
HW Southwark also found that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated uncertainty, crisis, and resignation in particular.
Based on their findings, HW Southwark made seven recommendations:
- Give more information to patients at set stages of their journey.
- Include, for example, acknowledgement of anything that has happened, a clear point of contact, and next steps with expected timeframes.
- Have a process or protocol for waiting patients, where if something is incomplete or hasn't happened, their case is flagged in the system.
- Ensure experiences of patients with multiple long-term conditions are included in service design and quality monitoring.
- Provide mental health signposting upon referral.
- Promote opportunities for positive interactions between staff and patients.
- Ensure feedback and complaints information is given to waiting patients.