In August 2023, Healthwatch East Sussex undertook two 24-hour ‘Enter and View’ sessions in the Emergency Departments (EDs) and Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) located at Eastbourne District General Hospital and at The Conquest Hospital.
We observed their operation, reviewed the physical settings and engaged with staff and patients to understand their experiences, so we could identify what worked well and where changes may be helpful.
Our 19 authorised representatives, made up of Healthwatch staff and volunteers, captured the experiences and views of138 patients across both sites during our review.
We focused on several themes:
- The pathways and services people had used before they ended up at UTC/ED
- Patients experiences of signing into the departments using the electronic check in service
- What could be done to improve patients overall experience of using the departments
Our report sets out our 9 headline recommendations, all targeted at improving the experiences of users of UTCs and EDs, before, during and after their visits.
They focus on several themes, including:
- Relationships with other services, such as South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) and NHS 111, so people’s expectations on which services to use and when are clearly managed.
- Suggested changes to the ‘check-in’ process for people arriving at UTCs and EDs, so that this is clear, simple and intuitive, but also accessible to all. We also feel staff support needs to be available at all times.
- A better system for calling patients to be seen, which provides confidentiality, but supports those with hearing impairments, language barriers or other needs.
- Improved communications to allow UTC and ED visitors to move around, use toilets and obtain refreshments, but not lose their place in the waiting list.
- Better facilities, such as more choice of food and drink and toilets which were clean, safe, and easily accessible, should be made available.
- Improved signage to guide check-in, differentiate between UTC and ED waiting areas, and support the patient journey.
Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work closely with ESHT and others to follow up on our recommendations, monitor the implementation of any changes and share the feedback we receive on these services.
Response from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
We shared our findings and recommendations with the Trust and they commented:
“We’d like to thank Healthwatch East Sussex for working with us on this review which supports our objective to continue to work in partnership to improve our services for local communities.
Work has already begun to address some of the recommendations, and Healthwatch revisited our departments to explore further the concerns raised regarding signage within our emergency departments and urgent treatment centres.
We have reviewed our contract with the vending machine providers who have been asked to explore how the contents of the vending machines can include healthier options and meet dietary requirements.
There are new roles within the department which will help to assist patients with the self-check in queries or provide support to check in and manage the waiting areas.
The report will be regularly revisited by our emergency department team to inform any suggested changes to the layout of the department.
Tell us your experiences
You can leave a review of health and care services in East Sussex each and every time you use them via our Feedback Centre. This only takes a few minutes and helps commissioners, providers and Healthwatch understand how services are performing.
The Healthwatch East Sussex Information and Signposting (I&S) Service helps people to access the right health or social care service or organisation for their needs. In addition, the I&S service also enables people to share their experience or make a complaint about services they have used.
To contact our Information and Signposting Service please call: 0333 101 4004 or