Improving people's experiences of hospital waiting rooms in Birmingham

Tuesday, 14 May, 2019

What patients value: improving people’s experiences of hospital waiting rooms

Independent champion Healthwatch Birmingham has listened to over 480 local people’s views, which highlights what it is like sitting in a hospital waiting room in the city.

In the series of 9 NHS hospital reports, findings show that some hospitals are managing the waiting experience better than others. Most people shared that they generally receive good or excellent quality care, even when the demand for care is high and staff are busy. However, the investigation highlights clear examples where improvements are needed to ensure the patient’s basic needs are being met. This includes food, drink and access to clean and comfortable environments.

The reports cover Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals, City Hospital and the Dental Hospital.

People’s views provide a better understanding of these services about where improvements are needed for patients, particularly for those with a disability.  One-fifth of people Healthwatch Birmingham spoke to have a sight or hearing impairment and shared that they face significant challenges when visiting a hospital. The reports include a range of recommendations to improve waiting rooms, including reviewing layouts and seating, signage, access to sign language interpreters and communication.

The Summary Report, which includes key findings, people’s views, recommendations to improve experiences and the NHS Trusts’ responses can be read at

Andy Cave, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Birmingham stated: “We know there is high demand in NHS hospitals. It is positive to see the hard work and quality of treatment by staff and services has been acknowledged and praised by most patients we spoke to”.

“Feedback we heard evidences that people’s overall views about a hospital can be impacted by their experiences of waiting areas. As our investigation shows there is good practice happening, but improvements need to be made to ensure services are disability aware, staff fully trained and hospitals accessible to all patients.”

Full details about the reports, including accessible versions, can be found on the Healthwatch Birmingham website at