'£400m hospital is like a cattle market'
NORTH Staffordshire's flagship new hospital has become 'like a cattle market' and leaves patients confused and baffled, it has been claimed.
Concerns have been raised that the reception of the £400 million superhospital is overcrowded with patients in wheelchairs, pensioners using walking sticks and harassed parents all trying to find the department they need.
Now bosses at the complex, which opened in March, are being urged to improve the entrance area to stop the public being so overwhelmed on arrival for medical appointments.
The criticism came at a meeting of North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is preparing to take over as the NHS funding body for Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
Its directors promised to look into the issue to see if it should be raised with executives at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
It was highlighted by retired learning disabilities consultant specialist psychiatrist Bob Londhe, who had visited the unit as a patient to have blood tests.
He told the CCG board meeting: "We have got a superb new hospital building – but it's like a cattle market in there at times.
"There are screaming children, people in wheelchairs, patients with walking sticks all wondering where they should be.
"This could be solved if it were managed a bit better. National research shows people's first impressions of a hospital environment influences how they view their whole treatment."
Dr Londhe worked for decades at the now-closed Stallington Hospital, in Blythe Bridge, and then with patients in the community.
He spoke out as the CCG meeting in the Medical Institute, Hartshill, was discussing ways of harnessing patients' views when checking up on services it commissions.
The board had heard how a 20-strong 'patient congress' had been formed to provide the public's perspective on care.
It is made up of representatives from each GP practice in Newcastle and the Moorlands, together with people from voluntary groups working alongside the NHS.
After being told of a range of measures to gather patients' opinions, Dr Londhe said: "You doctors and managers should be getting out from behind your desks to see the services for yourselves.
"It is part of the British culture to be polite and so people don't say what they really think about the services they receive."
CCG lay director Naomi Chambers agreed patients were often too polite to speak their minds.
And she admitted that during a recent hospital stay she had told staff she 'felt OK' several times even though she was in pain.
She said: "If the hospital appears like a long haul flight departure lounge to people then we need to challenge the trust to make some simple changes to try and prevent that."
Mother-of-one Maxine Shaw, aged 50, of Harriseahead, who has had three appointments at the new hospital, said: "I found the main atrium busy but well-organised and the departments well-signposted with plenty of staff available to help.
"The public have got to think for themselves sometimes and simply look up at the signs."