Imperial College Healthcare has an innovative programme to improve patient experience

Cartoon patient with doctor and relative Sitting in a room for eight hours, I was happy to be part of an exercise to improve our care in Imperial’s hospitals 

Normally I would avoid sitting down for such a long stretch, listening to healthcare professionals.  But this was a discussion run by Imperial (the Trust that bravely allowed TV cameras in for “Hospital”) and I was one of the few patient reps amongst 40 medical and admin, professionals.  We had been invited to meet together for a day of intensive brainstorming to see what little tweaks and changes might make a difference to patients’ experience.

No high falutin’ ‘new initiatives’.  No grand plans – and certainly no Sticky Toffee Pudding (STPs).  This was Imperial realising that it is often the ‘little’ things that annoy patients.  As I recounted my patient experiences, all these highly-qualified people were actually listening to what I had to say.  Heady stuff!

We were there to discuss ‘small’ issues and thereby see if we could come up with ideas to improve experiences. So often it is something small – a call bell not working, or a missed meal because you are out of the ward for tests – that causes patients grief.  Those managers in the room understood this, and were working through the issues to ensure that staff were empowered to sort things out on the spot.  

No more “I reported this so my job is done” attitude.

This was all about empowering a junior nurse so that he/she would feel confident they could contact the right people to get things sorted out for patients.  Not feel discouraged because their overworked Line Manager didn’t have time, so dismissed their concerns.

Case Study

One ‘exercise’ we did was to talk about little things that worked.  A participant said they had gone out into Outpatients and asked those waiting what would make their experience better.  There was a long waiting time (isn’t there always) so patients suggested putting up notices up saying roughly how long the wait was going to be (and keep this updated), or else one of the nurses/receptionists to frequently announce how long the wait was currently.

This allowed patients time to go off and get a coffee, tell someone they are going to be late, reassured them they hadn’t been forgotten, etc.

And the person telling us about this said that it was surprising how this helped patients;  once they knew approx how late things were going to be, it allowed them to take control of their time and plan their day.

One Trust had put up YOU SAID, WE DID notices in waiting rooms, so that patients could know what issues had been raised, and what had been done about resolving them.


At the end, everyone was reassured that there was the will to change the small, irritating things that can so annoy patients.

If you work for Imperial, or want to know more about their Quality Improvement Progamme, contact QI.Hub@imperial, or call 020 3312 5259.


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