Talking to patients using health centres in Islington

Healthwatch volunteers from London Metropolitan University have carried out over 80 interviews with patients accessing community services like podiatry, physiotherapy, and blood testing.
Healthwatch volunteers outside Holloway Community Health Centre

Shabiha, Eunice and Maseray from London Metropolitan University did a great job gathering patient feedback from six health centres across the borough in October and November last year. This week we publish the report outlining what they learned.

We were most interested in finding out three things:

  1. how easy people found it to get an appointment
  2. how well these services communicated with their patients
  3. what patients with restricted mobility thought of the hospital transport service

Appointments

Appointments were booked in different ways for different services. For podiatry patients in particular, it was felt that the booking system could be improved. Patients said that the appointment letter often arrives less than two weeks before the appointment. If you then have to change the appointment, you need to phone up the central bookings line to rearrange it. Patients said that sometimes the letter doesn't arrive at all, which means you end up waiting even longer, then need to call to arrange the appointment all over again. A number of patients said they had waited longer than they thought they should.

I don't really know why I have to wait. A lot of people I've spoken to are having the same problem of longer waiting. I think the physio works better. They make appointments straight away unlike podiatry.
— Podiatry patient at Holloway Community Health Centre

Information and communication

Some patients told us they received a reminder text for their appointments. Patients found this helpful. However, texting wasn't consistent across the services and not everyone who would have found text reminders helpful was being sent them. Some patients also found it frustrating that the only contact details they had been given were for the central bookings line, rather than for the centre or the practitioner with whom they have their appointments.

Transport

Only five of the patients we spoke to had used hospital transport to attend their appointment. Patients told us that they are told to be ready two hours before their appointment time and to wait to be collected. Patients found this to be quite a long time. These patients often had to wait at the health centre before or after their appointment as well. Patients using the hospital transport service did say that even if they are late for their appointment, they are always seen.

A great service from clinicians

Patients had very positive things to say about their experience of seeing a clinician. They felt they were given time and treated with care and respect.

'The district nurse was ever so nice, couldn't have been nicer - she spent time.'

Bladder and Bowel patient at River Place Health Centre

Read the full report

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