WHHT - Annual Report 05/06

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Annual Report 2005-2006: Putting Patients First

The Patients' Panel and Representatives

The Trustís Patientsí Panel was established four years ago and the seven-strong team have continued to play an active part in the Trust. Panel Chair, Jessie Winyard, is passionate about patient involvement. She explained: "The Patients' Panel has gone from strength to strength and has been involved in every aspect of patient care Ė including cleanliness, food, care of the elderly, maternity, ophthalmology and all aspects of Investing in Your Health."

Through meetings of the Patient Experience Group, made up of members of the Trustís Patientsí Panel, Patient Forum and frontline staff, patients and staff give their views on patient information and develop ideas for improving the patient experience. For further information about the Panel or Patient and Public Involvement, please contact Lesley Lopez on 01923 217803 or email lesley.lopez@whht.nhs.uk

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Patients Give their Views

The views of our patients are taken very seriously. The Trust took part in the Healthcare Commissionís annual patient survey, which asked 850 patients about their experiences as an inpatient. Feedback included patients concern about hospital-acquired infections, a wish to see a greater focus on patients making decisions about their care and treatment, and comments about the quality of the cleaning and food. Patients told the Trust that hospital and ward cleaning, and noise, have improved since last year. The Trustís Chief Nurse, Gary Etheridge, is leading work to address weaknesses found in the survey.

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Complaints, Comments and Compliments

We aim to provide the 300,000 patients, or more, we treat each year with the best possible care. However, providing acute healthcare is not without risk and sometimes, very rarely, things go wrong. We continually work to reduce such risks. This year two very serious incidents took place, straddling the Trust and the Hertfordshire Partnership Trustís Childrenís Services. As with other cases we have taken action to improve clinical processes and essential communications between staff, doing everything in our power to ensure incidents of this nature do not happen again. This includes putting new procedures in place for the monitoring and transfer of sick children, using emergency services within the Trust.

The Quality Assurance Department (QA) received 432 formal complaints, a decrease of 200 from the previous year (0.1% of patients treated). The Trust's Patient Advice and Liaison Service received 966 calls and/or visits to the department. In contrast, our wards and departments receive thousands of thank you letters and cards each year. Seventy per cent of
responses to complaints were made within 20 working days, against the national target of 85%. To improve this, the QA Department has adopted a Ďcomplainant ledí approach, and at the patient or relativeís request, more complaints are dealt with informally. Each complaint generates a process of action to improve services. We also take action in response to other
incidents and complaints to ensure patient safety and a high quality service.

The Trust received 12 requests for information in order for the Healthcare Commission to conduct independent reviews of complaints relating to services provided by the Trust during this year. Of these requests, no independent review panels or further investigations were granted. The Healthcare Commission recommended that further local resolution be undertaken by the Trust with regard to seven cases. One case required no further action.

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Consultation with Local Groups and Organisations

Under Section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act (2001) the Trust has a duty to involve and consult patients and the public at the beginning, and throughout all stages, of a process to plan services, develop and consider proposals for changes in the way services are provided, and make decisions affecting the operation of services. The Trust has worked closely with Hertfordshire County Councilís Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and its officers, over the past year in developing its plans for future service changes.

Over the course of the year, the Trust has been involved in, and has consulted upon, a variety of consultations including: the Patient Led NHS consultation, Investing In Your Mental Health, and the review into maternity services in west Hertfordshire by Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority.

As this report goes to print, the Trust is in the midst of a public consultation. The Trust is proposing to separate emergency and elective hospital care, centralising emergency care at the Watford General Hospital site and locating the majority of planned surgery at either St Albans City Hospital or Hemel Hempstead General Hospital, as a temporary measure, until the privately run surgicentre opens on the Hemel Hempstead General Hospital site in mid 2008. In both options, an Urgent Care Centre treating minor illnesses and minor injuries will be provided at Hemel Hempstead General Hospital. The consultation ends on October 16, 2006.

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Voluntary Services Department

Each week hundreds of volunteers give their time to support the Trust in a wide variety of ways, from helping in outpatients, running the hospital library service and providing volunteer driving services to offering clerical help.

The Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) and Leagues of Friends also provide invaluable services to support to the hospitals.

Pat Schofield and Vivienne Payne, the Trustís Voluntary Services Managers, are always looking for extra pairs of hands. If youíd like to know more please contact:

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Download a copy of the Trust's Annual Report:

2005/2006 Annual Report

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