A national survey published today (25 July 2023), has praised communications from staff in north Cumbria’s A&E departments and Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs).
The Urgent and Emergency Care Survey 2022 was carried out by the Care Quality Commission with a sample of patients who attended the departments in September 2022. 466 patients who attended either the Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital, Penrith Community Hospital or Keswick Community Hospital completed the survey.
Nationally, the satisfaction rates have decreased since the last survey was carried out in 2022, however North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust’s teams have still scored highly with only a slight decrease – the average score was 75.1% in A&E departments and 88% in Urgent Treatment Centres.
In A&E, the department improved in two areas since 2020 with the availability of food and drink improving from by almost 10% to 71.9%. When asked if hospital staff discussed if you may need further health or social care services after leaving A&E, 74.1% answered ‘yes’ which is an increase of 13%. The team scored particularly well in areas of communication with patients and relatives/carers, including:
• Doctors or nurses explained your condition and treatment in a way you could understand
• If a family member wanted to speak to a health professional, they had an opportunity
• Staff explained the purpose of any medications to take home
• Doctors and nurses did not talk to each other as if you weren’t there
There are also areas highlighted for improvement such as making sure patients have enough privacy when discussing their condition with a receptionist and keeping patients informed about waiting times in the department.
Commenting on the results, Dr Emma Farrow, clinical director for urgent & emergency care, said: “Nationally A&E departments have seen pressures like never before in terms of the level of demand over the past year. This is reflected in the results of the survey with our lowest scoring areas connected to waiting times. However, we also note that a lot of frustration can come from not being kept informed about waiting times and that is something within our gift to improve.
“Despite the challenges, we are delighted that we have continued to score highly in areas of communication which is so important when patients and families/carers are often in a very stressful situation.”
It is particularly pleasing to see that the improvement we have made in relation to nutrition and hydration have been reflected in the survey feedback. A good provision of nutrition and hydration is essential when recovering from illness and particularly important for those experiencing long delays for admission to the wards. At NCIC we have introduced refreshments into the waiting area and for those waiting for admission to a ward, a hot meal is offered as well and sandwiches, snacks and hot and cold drinks.
In the Trust’s two Urgent Treatment Centres in Penrith and Keswick, the overall satisfaction rate for the experience was 91.9% and, like the A&E teams, the UTC team scored highly in areas of communication, including:
• There was enough time to discuss my condition and my condition was explained in a way that was understandable
• The health professional listened to questions and concerns and I had confidence and trust in them
• Staff helped with any communications needs I had and privacy was respected
Dr Farrow added: “It is fantastic to see such high satisfaction rates at our UTCs which are a great alternative to A&E departments if your condition is not life-threatening. However, we are never complacent and the survey has also highlighted areas for improvement such as keeping patients informed about waiting times and discussing transport arrangements when leaving a UTC.”
Jill Foster, Chief Nurse at the Trust, added: “I would like to thank all of our teams working in our A&E and UTCs who often feel a huge amount of pressure being the front door to our hospitals and services. The teams continue to provide high quality care to our local communities and are committed to making further improvements.”