Monday, 10 December 2018
Thursday 24 October 2013

Wexham Park Hospital's confusing & inadequate signs

Hospital's top bosses criticised for their "blind indifference"

Report and photographs: Paul Janik

Despite being £19 million in debt, badly criticised by two government watchdogs for serious failings and now about to be taken-over by another NHS hospital trust Frimley Park, Wexham Park's bloated board of directors spent scarce public money desperately trying, in the Slough Times opinion, to mislead patients and visitors that everything at the hospital is wonderful.

We believe the clinical staff are doing an excellent job in often difficult circumstances but are let-down by the hospital's poor top management.

Inside Wexham Park hospital, bureaucratic bosses put a gigantic poster on a corridor wall proclaiming  Getting the basics right. Also on the poster is the hospital bosses' proud boast   Delivering quality standards.

Is this 'waffle' a good use of scarce public funds ?

Could the money be spend reducing the worrying backlog of hospital services which needlessly prolong patients occupying ward beds for extra weeks ?

The gigantic poster on a corridor wall

We decided to put the claims of the hospital chief executive Philippa Slinger and her board director colleague Thomas Lafferty to a very basic simple test.

Barrister Lafferty appears to be the hospital's Legal Adviser, the hospital's Reputation Management Guardian and the hospital's Chief Spin Doctor.

Chief executive Slinger recently stated:-

I am frequently in wards and departments and don't measure the time.

Walking around the hospital, assisted by a Deputy Chief Executive, a Chief Operating Office and even more board directors, Mrs Slinger must, we presume, see the ordinary signs of deliberate neglect and spot, like the Slough Times did, examples of where hospital bosses could do better and improve basic  facilities for public and patients.

Wexham Park hospital has vastly expanded since it was built in circa 1964. However the top management has, in the last 20 years or so, continually failed to impress. It seems the bosses were motivated by highly inflated salaries rather than by a genuine and sincere interest to lead, encourage and provide a first-class public hospital service. In the last 10 years, in an attempt to save money, wards were closed and doctors urged to go on holiday and not perform operations. About the same time it emerged a hospital ward had been used to film hard core sex scenes. The hospital claimed patients were not using the ward during filming.

Test 1 : Find a ward

Every well-run organisation numbers its assets. It is good management practise and it helps everyone locate those assets.

One regular complain of patients and visitors is:-

  • Not every ward has a 'ward number'
  • Existing ward numbers are not always shown on hospital signs
  • Finding the correct ward can be time-consuming and confusing

Conventionally a ward was a single large room with multiple beds for patients. Modern wards consist of 4 beds in alcoves and some single rooms.

Continuous machine monitoring of patients is performed in wards and in specialist units.

An example of confusion created by top management's disorderly thinking, is finding ward 18. It is a pink zone ward but it is not listed on the noticeboard.

Where is missing ward 18 ?

Remember Mrs Slinger stated on 19 September 2013:-

I am frequently in wards and departments.

Why did the missing sign escape the chief executive's attention ?

The Slough Times wonders whether the chief executive has ever considered the hospital's jumble of signs and the conspicuous desirability of making public access to wards and units simple and easy.

Ward 18 is via the corridor entrance to ward 4.

The Slough Times would like to offer the hospital's top management a simple but dramatically effective suggestion:-

Number all wards and units with patient beds. Call all of them wards and put all of them on direction signs.

Incidentally, both Coronary Angiography and Coronary Care are accessed through the entrance to ward 4. The Slough Times suggests the hospital numbers them, for example, ward 4E and ward 4F.

Test 2 : Dirty and Difficult to read signs

Hospitals should be clean but at Wexham Park hospital neither the chief executive nor her collection of board directors seem to think that cleanliness should extend to direction signs for patients, visitors and everyone else.

Wexham Park Hospital Trust does not care

If hospital chief executive Philippa Singer would like to explain to the public, who pay her salary, why simple things, as shown above, can not quickly and easily be improved for the benefit of patients, visitors and hospital staff, we shall be please to display her personal explanation. Inevitably the Slough Times asks why, after Mrs Slinger has been chief executive for 2 years @ £200,000 a year plus free pension contributions, are these basic items still outstanding ?