What's it like being in a hospital waiting room?

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Birmingham evaluated the quality of service in waiting rooms in Birmingham's hospitals in reference to the environment, the waiting time, communication, accessibility, and dignity and respect. They started their investigation in autumn 2018 until February 2019, and conducted it in two stages; first, Healthwatch collected feedback directly from patients who were in hospital waiting rooms, then they held focus groups and developed an online questionnaire. Healthwatch worked closely with third-sector organisations and ensured interpreters were available for people with a visual and/or hearing impairment in the focus groups. 

They found that in the majority of hospitals, waiting times were too long. In some instances, people reported that the waiting areas were overcrowded and the seating was uncomfortable. The experiences of people with a disability were less positive than for those without. In a majority of these hospitals, patients had problems accessing refreshments, especially at busy times and in accident and emergency departments. Several patients said that there was a lack of consistent and accessible signage. Some communication is good, but this is inconsistent across the hospitals, and it does not
always taken into account patients’ needs or preferences. The British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter booking system is not working for some patients. Although some reported good experiences, the majority of patients who used interpretation
services, across most of these hospitals, told us that interpretation services are difficult to arrange and unreliable.

Healthwatch Birmingham made several recommendations and intend to track progress made in six months time.

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General details

Report title 
What's it like being in a hospital waiting room?
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Birmingham
Date of publication 
Friday, 10 May, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 9 October, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 25 February, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Communication between staff and patients
Staff attitudes
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 
Focus group
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
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? 
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.