COVID-19 How are we coping- Part II Hospital Appointments Week ending 12 July 2020
We believe the results of this hospital survey work is particularly important in helping inform our NHS acute services, not only in Lincolnshire but across the region, as to what the possible patient barriers are. This we hope will help direct what the current and future patient communication messages need to be, and more importantly give our health and care services a real time sense check from the patient perspective of what impact health and care service delivery has on the patient and their family, carers, and loved ones.
We aim to share this work and these findings as widely as possible and as part of our collaborative approach with providers and NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group. We liaised with the United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust (ULHT) to inform them we were conducting this hospital survey. ULHT were keen for us to share the results with them to help improve their understanding of real or perceived patient barriers to accessing care currently.
The following areas were identified as key findings:
- Patients were not attending appointments, because hospitals had previously cancelled and not rearranged appointments or they had received no information regarding a new referral.
- Patients were frustrated at the lack of information about the status of their health and care treatment (where were they on the waiting list).
- Patients were also receiving the message that it was not appropriate for non-COVID patients to attend hospital due to the risk of infection and burden on NHS resources.
- For those patients that had attended hospital they had mixed views on their experiences, although overwhelming it must be stated, very good experiences. However, we cannot ignore the patients who where scared, those who observed inconsistent practical application with regard to PPE being utilised both by staff and patients and those patients receiving care, treatment and or difficult news under impossible or isolated situations where the critical support of loved ones in these situations was not considered.
The messages and learning from this piece of work seem to revolve around the need for transparent and frequent communication, a need to keep in touch with patients and provide some assurance that they are not going to suffer harm, nor had they been forgotten. It is not enough for the system to say that they “didn’t want to raise patient expectations by sharing messages which could be misinterpreted”.
In addition, there is a need to apply consistent policies and protocols for patients and staff, giving a greater sense of cohesive effective delivery and more assurance that care in Lincolnshire is safe. Finally, and perhaps the most concerning is where ‘putting the patient at the centre’ seems to have gone out of the window in some cases, where an individual’s needs and general wellbeing just weren’t considered on an individual care plan basis.