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Healthwatch listens to A&E experiences


Emergency Department at Hinchingbrooke HospitalLast week, our volunteers visited the Emergency Department (ED) at Hinchingbrooke Hospital to find out about people’s experiences of care. The ED, also known as A&E, is the front door to care for many and is often very busy.  

We spoke to 64 people in the ED waiting room, the treatment area and the ambulatory care areas.  We were particularly interested in people’s experience of waiting times and, for those who visited the ED, whether they had used a different service first. We also wanted to hear people’s suggestions to improve care.

The visits were ‘unannounced’ and were done using our power to Enter and View. This is Healthwatch's legal right to visit places that provide publicly funded health or care services to see and hear how people experience the services.   

Each visit was carried out by a team of trained volunteers led by Kate Hales, one of our Co-ordinators. Our team also carried out a “15 Steps Challenge" assessment; this is a way of looking at the care provided through the eyes of people who use the services.

Although technically ‘unannounced’, the visits were planned with the knowledge and input of senior staff. They wanted our feedback to help them improve care within the department which was assessed as requiring improvement in the Care Quality Commission report published in August. The hospital was given an overall good rating on this visit. 

Kate and the volunteers are now back in the office, and are busy crunching the numbers and assessing the stories. We hope to publish the reports at the end of November or early December.


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